1 2 FThe Story...
Boston College 42 40 82
Providence 31 46 77
With a lot of people (myself included) wondering whether or not this team would show a backbone and try to salvage the early part of its season or if it would roll over and quit, the Eagles played perhaps their best first half of the season. Led by a tremendous performance from Reggie Jackson and a terrific effort defensively, the Eagles led by 11 points at halftime and by as many as 18 overall. But after coming out very complacent after the half, the Friars were able to shred BC for 46 second half points and even took a lead with less than 2 minutes remaining. But thanks to some timely baskets from Josh Southern and clutch free throw shooting across the board, the Eagles scored the last 7 points of the game to escape the Dunkin Donuts Center with a desperately needed 82-77 win.
By the Numbers...
43...The number of rebounds collected by the Eagles. Faced with an undersized 3 point shooting opponent, BC took advantage by pounding both the offensive and defensive glass, particularly in the 1st half. They didn't allow many second chance points were able to collect 15 offensive rebounds of their own to help out the perimeter players who shot a gruesome 0-10 from 3 point territory. Speaking of which...
0...The number of 3 pointers made for Boston College. I'd need to research this, but I can't remember the last time the team didn't make a single three pointer. It didn't hurt them in this game because of the job they did on the offensive glass, but it's something that needs to be improved against better teams. The Eagles will take on highly ranked Michigan, a team similar to the Friars later this week, so that game would be a good place to start improving their perimeter shooting.
59.3...BC's percentage at the free throw line. Winning washes away a lot of sins, but only for so long. Free throws were another reason that this game became much more interesting than it needed to be. By making just 16-27 attempts in the game, they left points on the floor that the Friars gladly converted into their own in their bid to erase a huge deficit. BC did the right thing by attacking the rim against them, but did not make them pay at the line. Had they made even 75% of their shots from the stripe, the game would have been over long before it was. Providence aided the BC escape by shooting just 53% from the line, though on far fewer attempts.
Far and away the MVP of this game, and so far this season, the team. The explosive sophomore posted an unbelievable 20 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists. He was the teams go to player throughout the game and continues to evolve his game into the player we saw flashes of last season. What is most impressive about his game is the ability he has to put the ball on the floor and weave his way to the rim and finish. He's ferocious at the rim and a tremendous athletic specimen. The more he plays the more I like him. Does Biko Paris really keep his starting spot when Rakim Sanders is ready to return next week?
Like Jackson, Corey Raji has improved greatly since arriving on campus. Now a junior, Raji has become a reliable shooter from the mid-range and continues to be a tremendous weak side defender and shot blocker. He has also been the Eagles best perimeter player this year and is routinely assigned the other teams best offensive player. In this game, he defended Providence's Marshon Brooks throughout the night and held the junior play maker below his scoring average and below 50% shooting from the field while committing just 3 fouls.
Free Throw Shooting
See above. The Eagles allowed the Friars to climb back into this game behind a number of factors. Not the least of which, was the number of points that BC left at the free throw line. Had they been able to convert at the line while attacking the rim, they could have broken Providence's will much earlier in this game. To their credit, the Eagles did make their final 4 of the game to ice it.
2nd Half Focus
Clearly BC came out with a mission. They wanted to prove that they were capable defensively of winning basketball games against good teams. They accomplished this in the 1st half...perhaps too well. When they came out for the 2nd half there was a lack of intensity that was so much a part of them grabbing that early 18 point lead. I'm worried that this first half was more of an anomaly than the norm because of all the pressure the team was under because of its performance in the Paradise Jam. We'll find out more this week.
It's hard to argue with the win under the circumstances. They were up against a team with a strong record, that was playing with a great deal of confidence and provided match-up nightmares all over the court, and still managed to come away with the game. It was also impressive given their own shortcomings as a team and the lack of confidence that Corey Raji alluded that the team was playing with. It was a very important win for the team psyche, because it showed that when focused they can absolutely compete at a high level on both ends of the court.
As I mentioned earlier, whether this was an anomaly or a look at things to come will be revealed later this week when the Eagles take on 15th ranked Michigan on Wednesday as part of the Big 10-ACC Challenge. The Wolverines have lost their last 2 against Alabama and Marquette after winning their first 3. Alabama was also the only other team to beat Providence before BC, so take that for what it's worth.