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Thoughts on Day Two of the NCAA Tournament: this is us

Providence, what happen, man?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Four-Providence vs Southern California Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Like yesterday, this is a space to remark on the NCAA Tournament games of the day and discuss what elements of the teams we are watching can be applied to St. John’s in some manner.

Game 1

UC Davis vs NC Central was hard-fought, but the shooting was middling as was the talent. Not much to see here, because we want to talk about game two.

Game 2

So, Providence lost to USC to end their season. Fine, fine, the game was predicted to be a close win by Providence, aka a near toss-up. But how they lost...

Here’s a recap. And another. But the upshot is this:

in the middle of the first half, the Providence Friars displayed the toughness we have come to associate with the team. It wasn’t just in their defense, that held the USC Trojans scoreless over four and a half minutes while the Friars came from behind to build an 11-point lead.

It was in the way that the Friars, who started the game confused against the active USC zone, recovered from a poor start. The Trojans scored the first five points as Alpha Diallo and his teammates looked wildly inept against zone concepts, unable to penetrate, and had passes deflected. But the Friars found a way, which was admirable, and got into transition.

Then the second half started and USC, down 15 points at the half and carried by big man Bennie Boatwright’s 15 points in the first half, chipped away with diversified scoring in spurts. They took the lead with about seven minutes left to play and held off Ed Cooley’s squad; Cooley thought his team got lazy on defense in the second half.

Many fans rip on St. John’s scoring lapses for stretches, and this lapse is just as bad. There were five turnovers in the Trojans’ run to tie the game, and the Friars could only score in the paint, missing a number of three-pointers.

But of course, the Friars had paint play to lean on. That would allow the high scoring St. John’s guards to shoulder a little less of the burden, obviously.

Your thoughts? Did you watch the games?