The Providence men’s basketball team picked up its biggest win of the season to date behind 19 points and nine rebounds from senior Kyron Cartwright the Friars defeated No. 5/4 Xavier, 81-72, on Saturday afternoon in front of a sold out crowd (12,630) at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.
It marked the first win at home for the Friars versus a top-5 ranked team since February 24, 2009 when they knocked off No. 1 Pittsburgh. It also was the Friars' first win over a top-5 squad overall since they won at No. 4 Villanova, 82-76, in OT on January 24, 2016.
The Friars had five different players finish in double figures as Isaiah Jackson (Gainesville, Fla.) scored 18 points, Rodney Bullock (Hampton, Va.) scored 17 points, Jalen Lindsey (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) scored 12 points, and Alpha Diallo (New York, N.Y.) poured in 11 points to complement Cartwright.
Kerem Kanter finished with a double-double for the Musketeers, scoring 24 points to go with 12 rebounds.
Providence (11-6, 2-2)led 71-63 with 5:16 left but two free throws from Tyrique Jones pulled Xavier (15-2, 3-1) within six at the under four media timeout.
The Friars maintained a six-point edge, 73-67, with 2:10 to play when Jackson came through with the biggest play of the game.
The junior form Gainesville drove strong with his right hand before finishing through contact at the rim for a three-point play to put Providence up 76-67.
Kanter tried to keep Xavier within striking distance knocking in two straight layups, but Jackson and Cartwright (Compton, Calif.) sealed the Friars win at the free throw line. Friars were a season-best 20-22 (91%) from the line for the game.
Providence held Xavier’s leading scorer Trevon Bluiett scoreless in the second half. He finished with 12 points.
Bullock opened the scoring with a three pointer from the right wing.
Minutes later, Bullock showed off his range once again as off a Nate Watson (Arlington, Va.) block, Cartwright dished a cross-court pass to the six-foot eight-inch forward who buried his second triple of the game to even the score at 10.
Lindsey then capped off a 7-0 run for the Friars as his layup in transition put the Friars up 12-10 with 14:52 left in the first half.
Bluiett answered Providence’s spurt with back-to-back threes, but the Friars continued to find openings in the Musketeers’ 1-3-1 zone defense.
A quick five points from Bullock and a three-point play from Cartwright put the Friars back in front, 22-16 at the under 12 timeout.
The Friars increased their lead up to nine as Cartwright dished a bounce pass up ahead to Jackson who converted through contact to give Providence a 30-21 lead with 7:48 to go in the half.
Defensively, meanwhile, the Friars refused to allow Xavier to get into a rhythm, switching between a 2-3 zone and man-to-man.
In the interior Nate Watson (Arlington, Va.) and Kalif Young (Vaughan, Ontario) prevented the Musketeers from getting anything easy around the rim.
Through the first 20 minutes Watson and Young each compiled three blocks. Providence finished the game with nine total blocks.
Providence stretched their first half lead up to as many as 11 points on a Lindsey trey, but the Friars went cold from the field over the final four minutes of the half allowing Xavier to get back into the contest before the intermission.
Two free throws by Bluiett to go with a Sean O’Mara dunk pulled Xavier within 40-32 at the half.
Next up the Friars travel to DePaul to take on the Blue Demons on January 12 with tipoff scheduled for 8:30pm on FS1.