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Friars report: Getting inside

The Sports Xchange
 
Getting inside · Strategy and personnel · Notes, quotes
 

Now the real fun begins for Providence.

The Friars, off to a 5-2 start in the incredibly tough Big East (13-6 overall), don't play again until Wednesday. But when they do, first-year coach Keno Davis' team will face a murderous stretch of four games.

It starts with No. 8 Syracuse coming to Providence. The Friars then go to No. 3 Connecticut. After that, there's a Feb. 4 home game against No. 20 Villanova, followed by a game at West Virginia, a team that has been ranked this year and on Wednesday night upset No. 12 Georgetown in Washington.

Speaking after Wednesday night's overtime win at Seton Hall, Davis said, "We've got to look at it as a great opportunity every time you get to play those teams with numbers in front of them (ranked teams)."

The Friars have won two in a row. Their five conference victories are over St. John's, DePaul, two over Cincinnati and Seton Hall. All were picked to finish behind Providence, which was tabbed to place 10th in the 16-team league by the conference coaches in their preseason poll.

The two losses were to then-No. 9 Georgetown and No. 14 Marquette.

PROVIDENCE 98, SETON HALL 93 (OT): Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez, who recruited Jeff Xavier to play at Manhattan (where he was before moving to Providence), told the Providence Journal before facing his former player: "No question I'm sure he can't wait to play against me, but I don't want any piece of him."

The coach got a piece, and then some, as Xavier scored 20 points, 15 of them on 3-pointers, to help Providence to its extra-time win in Newark on Thursday night.

Weyinmi Efejuku scored 19 points and Marshon Brooks 14, while Jonathan Kale had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds in the Friars' first overtime game of the season.

"In the past we've lost those games and we've been like, 'We could've done that,' or 'We should've done this.' We don't want to say that anymore," Efejuku told the Journal.

The Friars led by 14 points in the first half, settled for overtime and then kept the Pirates winless in league play.

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