Providence routs No. 14 Louisville 90-59
It was a trip down memory lane for first-year Providence coach Ed Cooley and the Friars' fans, and the current team provided a fitting result.
Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts each scored 27 points and Providence made Lousiville coach Rick Pitino's night miserable on a day the school honored his 1987 squad, beating the No. 14 Cardinals 90-59 on Tuesday night.
At halftime, Providence held a ceremony, honoring the 25th anniversary of its team that relied on the 3-point shot during a run to the Final Four. The school did it on a night when Pitino was in town, but there was no mention of him when most of the squad was introduced and brought out to center court.
After the ceremony, this year's Friars' team blew it open and made things a lot more fun in Cooley's first Big East win.
''It was an incredible feeling that you can come home,'' said Cooley, who grew up in Providence watching the 1987 team. ''When (this building) is rocking, there's no better place.''
Vincent Council added 15 points and LaDontae Henton 14 for the Friars (12-6, 1-4 Big East). Providence snapped a four-game losing streak.
It was the Friars' largest margin of victory ever over a ranked opponent.
''Just an incredible game for our guys,'' Cooley said. ''Let's face it, we've been struggling a little bit, but I thought we were getting better.''
And it showed.
Providence, taking a page from the team that lived behind the 3-point line 25 years ago, hit 9 of 15 from beyond the arc. Cotton was 5 for 5.
''In basketball sometimes you have a night where you can't miss,'' Cotton said. ''Tonight was one of those nights.''
Chris Smith led the Cardinals with 16 points. Louisville (13-4, 1-3) has lost four of its last five, including a 67-65 setback in double-overtime at home against Notre Dame on Saturday.
The Cardinals finished just 37.9 percent (22 of 58) from the field and missed 15 of 19 on 3-pointers.
''There's always that one game a year you can't explain,'' Pitino said. ''Nothing goes right, everything goes wrong and they do everything right.''
Providence, which led 43-25 at halftime, pushed its advantage to 21 points 1:30 into the second half when Cotton nailed a 3 from the top of the key.
The Cardinals didn't look like they were ready to make any run to get back into the game, especially when Cotton beat everyone down the floor for a fastbreak layup and 26 seconds later Batts drove in alone for a jam, was fouled on the play and nailed the free throw. Cotton then followed with another 3 - his fourth of the game - making it 57-33 with 14:45 to play.
Cotton hit another 3 - this one coming from the right corner - and nailed 2 of 3 from the free throw line. On the miss, Louisville's Angel Nunez tipped in the miss battling for a rebound with Batts, increasing it to 65-37 with 11:05 to go.
From then on about all the fans had to do was enjoy the romp, with a few heckling Pitino.
The Friars, who hung with top-ranked Syracuse before falling 87-73 last week, play at the Orange on Saturday.
Providence's second-leading scorer, Gerald Coleman, missed the game with a back injury after he took a hard fall in the last game.
The Friars had no trouble with any defense Louisville threw at them in the first half, breaking the press for easy looks, getting inside the Cardinals' zone and working the ball into the lane when they played man.
Providence shot 48 percent (13 of 27) in the opening half, using a 14-2 run midway in to turn a one point lead to 30-21. Council, scoreless in the opening 12:50, capped the spree with 9 straight points. The Friars also nailed 5 of 8 from behind the 3-point line in the opening 20 minutes.
After Chris Smith had a fastbreak dunk for the Cardinals, the Friars closed the half with a 13-2 run, holding Louisville without a basket for the final 5:07. Cotton hit a pair of 3s during the run.
Louisville shot just 30.3 percent (10 of 33) in the first half, missing 8 of 9 from beyond the arc. The play that symbolized how bad things went for the Cardinals came when Rakeem Buckles missed a dunk with 39 seconds left.
Pitino, in his 11th season with Louisville, received a mixed welcome for pregame introductions.
Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch was seated courtside.