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December 31, 2010Providence is St. John's third-most faced opponent in history, with 97 meetings between the two teams in a series that started in 1927.
St. John's holds a 55-42 advantage in the series and a 30-26 edge in BIG EAST play. The Friars are 23-18 against STJ in Providence, where the Red Storm has not won since taking a 61-46 victory on Feb. 8, 2000. St. John's will look to snap a seven-game losing streak on the Friars' home court. The Red Storm last defeated Providence on Feb. 9, 2008, in a 64-62 St. John's victory at Carnesecca Arena.
Providence is 11-3 this season and a perfect 10-0 at home. The Friars rank 21st in the nation in team scoring, averaging 80.7 points per game. PC has been stout defensively, limiting opponents to 69.1 points per game, outrebounding opponents by an average of 7.6 rebounds and ranking 12th in the nation in blocks per game with 6.14. The Friars are coming off of an 81-74 loss at Syracuse in their BIG EAST opener on Dec. 28. Providence has not lost at home since March 6, 2010, when the Friars fell, 92-80, to Seton Hall.
• Providence features one of the most dynamic players in the nation in senior guard/forward Marshon Brooks. Brooks is eighth in the nation and second in the BIG EAST in scoring average at 23.4 points per game. He is highly efficient from the field (50.6 field goal percentage) and is shooting 34.9 percent (64-of-83) from beyond the arc. Brooks is active in all aspects of the game and averages 8.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.4 blocks every time he steps onto the court. In two career games against St. John's, Brooks has averaged 12.5 points and shot 41.7 percent from the field.
• The Friars offense also hinges on the play of sophomore guard Vincent Council and freshman guard Gerard Coleman. Council is one of the top point guards in the nation, ranking seventh in NCAA Division I with 6.9 assists per contest. He is a skilled 3-point shooter (34.4 percent, 22-of-64) and ranks second on the team in scoring with 15.6 points per game. Coleman is enjoying a solid freshman campaign, averaging 10.5 points per game while shooting 46.8 percent from the field. Sophomore forward/center Bilal Dixon has been Providence's main force in the middle, averaging 7.2 points, 9.2 boards per game. Dixon's 2.6 blocks per game ranks 21st in the nation.
• The Friars' losses to La Salle (Nov. 23), Boston College (Dec. 8) and Syracuse (Dec. 28) all largely resulted from slow starts in the first half. In PC's 84-73 loss to La Salle, the Friars dug themselves into a 44-28 hole by halftime after shooting just 31.3 percent from the field while porous defense allowed the Explorers to shoot 66.7 percent.
Boston College took an 88-86 win over Providence after the Friars failed to overcome an 11-point halftime deficit. In the first half, PC shot just 33.3 percent from the field while BC shot 48.3 percent. Syracuse topped Providence, 81-74, and had a 10-point lead at halftime. The Orange did much of its first-half damage from long distance, going 7-of-15 from 3-point range.
• In each of Providence's three losses, the Friars have allowed at least one player to score 20 points. Syracuse's Kris Joseph (27 points) and Scoop Jardine (21), Boston College's Reggie Jackson (26), and La Salle's Aaric Murray (20) each scored at least 20 points in their victories over PC. St. John's senior guard Dwight Hardy has tallied four 20-point performances over St. John's last five games. Hardy recorded 20 or more points against St. Bonaventure (24 points), Fordham (30), Northwestern (24) and West Virginia (20). He is averaging 22.0 points and shooting 52.2 percent from the field over STJ's last five games.
• In 2009-10, Providence went 12-19 overall and finished 15th in the BIG EAST after going 4-14 in conference play. The Friars were 8-9 at home, but just 2-7 against BIG EAST Opponents in the Dunkin' Donuts Center. PC returned eight players from last year's team, including two starters. The Friars have seven newcomers this season. The Friars' 2009-10 season ended with a 109-106 loss to Seton Hall in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship.
• Providence head coach Keno Davis has comprised a 42-36 record in his third season leading the Friars. Davis owns a 70-41 career coaching record over four seasons as a head coach. In 2007-08, he led Drake to a 28-5 record and its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1971. Davis is 2-0 against St. John's. Under Davis, Providence has stymied St. John's, winning by an average margin of 18 points.