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Providence, on 8-game win streak, hosts struggling St. John’s

Dec 20, 2022; Providence, Rhode Island, USA; Providence Friars guard Jared Bynum (4) huddles the team during the first half against the Marquette Golden Eagles at Amica Mutual Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

A quarter of the way through the Big East schedule, things could not be going much better for Providence — or much worse for St. John’s.

A pair of teams headed in opposite directions are slated to oppose one another Saturday afternoon as the Friars (13-3, 5-0 Big East) host the Red Storm (11-5, 1-4).

Providence recorded its eighth straight win with a 73-61 victory over UConn on Wednesday. The Friars improved to 5-0 in conference play for the first time in school history and remain one of two unbeaten Big East teams along with Xavier (4-0).

The tailspin for St. John’s continued on Tuesday night with a 96-85 setback versus Marquette.

Providence posted its third straight double-digit win on Wednesday. The Friars never trailed after the break and took control with a 12-3 run around the midway point of the second half.

The eight-game winning streak is the third in the past two years for Providence, which is 10-1 since Nov. 23. The Friars’ lone defeat in that span was a 75-62 loss on Nov. 30 to TCU, which has won 11 straight.

“As I shared with our men in the locker room: (Since) leaving the Mohegan Sun (Arena) after the (76-73) loss to a very good Saint Louis team (Nov. 20), I feel we’ve improved and gotten better and better,” Providence head coach Ed Cooley said. “And that’s with process, patience and these men taking advantage of an opportunity that’s been provided to them.”

The process isn’t working for St. John’s, which opened the season with eight straight wins before going 3-5 since Dec. 4.

The average margin of defeat during their losing streak has been 13.3 points for the Red Storm. After a 78-63 loss to Villanova on Dec. 21, St. John’s fell to Xavier, 84-79 on Dec. 28, and to Seton Hall 88-66 three days later. Marquette then set a regulation record for points scored by a visitor at Carnesecca Arena — which opened as Alumni Hall in 1961 — Tuesday night.

“Right now, we have not become that defensive team I want us to be,” St. John’s head coach Mike Anderson said. “Our defense is what’s hurting us right now.”

–Field Level Media