Providence secured its first Big East victory in surprising fashion but will try to avoid being on the wrong side of a similar scenario on Thursday when it travels to St. John's. The Friars opened conference play with a double-overtime home setback against Seton Hall and followed it with a 30-point loss at No. 6 Villanova. Just as it appeared that Providence could be slipping to the bottom of the league, the Friars pounded Georgetown three days later to end a three-game slide.
With a showdown at No. 19 Creighton on the horizon Saturday, Providence would like nothing more than to continue building momentum and send the Red Storm to their worst five-game start in league action since 2003-04. St. John's recently dropped its fourth straight game with a 77-75 loss at DePaul, leaving the team a half-game out of last place in the Big East. The Red Storm, who have lost 13 of their last 17 against the Friars, will play their third game in five days.
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ABOUT PROVIDENCE (11-5, 1-2 Big East): Kadeem Batts, who totaled 25 points over the Friars' three-game slide, broke out of his scoring slump with 21 against Georgetown. Bryce Cotton leads the conference with 5.7 assists and needs one more to match his total from last season (92). Brandon Austin, a freshman who was suspended indefinitely at the start of the season for "not upholding his responsibilities as a student-athlete" and later suspended for the entire season for a violation of the school's code of conduct, has elected to transfer to Oregon.
ABOUT ST. JOHN'S (9-7, 0-4): Leading scorer D'Angelo Harrison, who was cleared to play Tuesday against DePaul after suffering a concussion in Sunday's loss to Villanova, rebounded from a 5-for-25 effort from the field over his last two games with a 9-for-17 performance. Phil Greene IV turned in his 10th zero-turnover game against the Blue Demons and has recorded only seven miscues in 382 minutes this season. The Red Storm are shooting a league-worst 37.7 percent from the field and sporting a rebounding margin of minus-7.3 through four Big East contests.
1. Providence and St. John's will square off twice this season for the first time since 2006-07.
2. The Friars lead the country in free-throw percentage (79.7).
3. The Red Storm will match their longest losing streak under coach Steve Lavin with another setback on Thursday.
PREDICTION: Providence 74, St. John's 72