Rushed Reactions: #9 Providence 70, #8 USC 69

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on March 17th, 2016

Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCEastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCSouthregion and @RTCWestregion.

Three Key Takeaways.

Providence celebrates its last second win over USC. (Fox Sports)

Providence celebrates its last second win over USC. (Photo: Fox Sports)

  1. Providence appeared to be in good shape, then it didn’t, but then won anyway. At the half, Ed Cooley had to feel pretty good about things. His star guard Kris Dunn only had three points and one assist before the break, having played only 10 minutes because of foul trouble. USC was hot from outside (four of eight on threes) and the Friars were out-rebounded by five before intermission. Still, Providence only trailed by one point after 20 minutes of action. USC came out strong after the break, however, using a zone to harass the Friars into a bunch of missed jumpers. But Providence was able to hang around until some shots fell and they could finally apply a bit of game pressure to the Trojans. In the last couple of minutes, it appeared that USC’s lack of experience finally came into play. Down the stretch, the Trojans committed bad turnovers and twice missed the front end of a one-and-one. Their final mistake was allowing Providence to execute an out of bounds play for an easy layup in the final seconds — an error that ended their season.
  2. Sometimes quality is more important than quantity. We knew going into this one that it would be a battle between Providence’s stars and USC’s balanced attack. The Trojans had six players averaging between 9.8 and 13.4 points per contest. Meanwhile, Providence gets most of its scoring from just three players. Things played out as expected tonight, as the Trojans had six players score at least eight points, while Providence had the game’s three top scorers. Ben Bentil and Kris Dunn combined for 35 points, although it took them 34 shots to reach that total. Dunn did come up big in the clutch, scoring 10 of his 16 points in the game’s final 10 minutes.
  3. These teams are polar opposites in regards to three-point shooting. On the season, Providence ranks in the upper half of the nation in three-point attempt percentage, but the Friars only make 32. 1 percent of their shots from deep. Conversely, USC is the 28th most accurate three-point shooting team in the country at 38.5 percent, but the Trojans rank 246th in frequency of long range attempts. In tonight’s contest, both teams played to form – Providence finished with a 9-24 from beyond the arc, while USC made seven of its 13 attempts from behind the arc. With everyone expected back for the Trojans next year, perhaps Andy Enfield should consider hoisting a few more shots from deep, since they obviously are good at making them.

Star of the Game. Rodney Bullock, Providence. While playing in the shadows of Dunn and Bentil, Bullock has had a solid sophomore year. Tonight he was efficient (6-11 shooting), tough (game-high 10 rebounds), and clutch (game-winning shot).


  • “Great finish. March Madness at its best.” – Opening postgame statement from Providence’s Ed Cooley.
  • “We took away their first and second options. One of our players made a mistake.” – USC coach Andy Enfield, on his team’s defensive breakdown on the game-winner.
  • “Kris [Dunn] and Ben [Bentil] took the attention away and Drew (Edwards) made a great pass.” Providence’s Rodney Bullock describing his winning basket.

Sights and Sounds. We had a mini-reunion of sorts here this week, as Andy Enfield’s former employer, Florida Gulf Coast joined USC in Raleigh. It was only three years ago that Enfield led ‘Dunk City’ to a magical NCAA Tournament run, with the Eagles becoming the first 15 seed to make a Sweet Sixteen. Enfield’s current and former school had adjoining locker rooms in PNC Arena today, so perhaps there was a moment or two for the coach to see some of his former mates.

What’s Next?  Providence advances to Saturday’s Second Round, where it will face #1 North Carolina. At stake will be a trip to the East Regional next week in Philadelphia.
Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

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