Providence looks to shake off rust vs. streaking Seton Hall

·2 min read

If there were worries about Seton Hall in the season's first two weeks, they seem to have disappeared.

Not only have the Pirates won four in a row, including a gritty 70-63 decision in their Big East Conference opener Thursday night at Marquette, but reinforcements are either on hand or on the way.

When they host Providence on Sunday in another conference game in Newark, N.J., they'll have 6-foot-8 Missouri transfer Tray Jackson in uniform as well as Harvard transfer Bryce Aiken in the rotation for a second game.

Aiken played 12 minutes at Marquette, and although he made just 1 of 6 shots in a three-point outing, he's got the scoring punch to give Seton Hall (5-3, 2-0) a viable third option to Sandro Mamukelashvili and Jared Rhoden. Aiken averaged 16.8 ppg his first three seasons at Harvard, and 16.7 last season in just seven games before an injury ended his season.

"It's just a matter of him getting some game reps and being a little more aggressive," Pirates coach Kevin Willard said of Aiken during his post-game radio interview Thursday evening.

Mamukelashvili (20.0 points, 7.3 rebounds) and Rhoden (14.4 points, 7.5 rebounds) are accounting for nearly 45 percent of Seton Hall's scoring, with Myles Cale chipping in another 10.0 points per game.

While the Pirates are rounding into the form many predicted for them in October, Providence (4-2, 0-0) may be rusty when this one starts.

The Friars haven't played since Dec. 9, when they posted a 79-70 win at TCU in the Big East/Big 12 Battle. Since then, they've endured postponements with Xavier, Connecticut and DePaul because of COVID-19 protocol.

Providence's star is junior David Duke, a hometown kid who is one of the conference's best players. He's coming off consecutive 28-point performances against Fairleigh Dickenson and TCU, and is averaging 19.7 points to go along with 3.5 assists.

"Coach asks me to stay aggressive and never take my foot off the gas," Duke said after the win at TCU.

Nate Watson is the Friars' other big weapon, pumping in 18.7 points and converting nearly 63 percent of his shots. The duo averages more than half of Providence's 74.5 points per game. The Friars are canning better than 46 percent of their shots while committing only 9.7 turnovers per game.

The teams split their season series last year, each winning at home.

--Field Level Media