Al Durham leads red-hot Providence into its highly anticipated matchup against Ishmael Leggett and rival Rhode Island in a battle for Ocean State supremacy on Saturday afternoon in Providence, R.I.
The Friars (7-1) are averaging 72.3 points per game and the Rams (6-2) are averaging 72.1 heading into their first meeting since Dec. 6, 2019, when Rhode Island ran away with a 75-61 home victory.
The teams did not meet last season due to pandemic-altered scheduling, snapping an 89-year streak of annual meetings dating back to 1933-34.
"It's a big-time game, a big-time rivalry, big time for the state. We missed this game last year," Rhode Island coach David Cox told WPRI. "They'll have the home crowd and the advantage there, but we look forward to the fight."
Providence leads the all-time series 74-58 and is 43-17 at home versus Rhode Island.
"They're very aggressive defensively," Providence coach Ed Cooley said. "We haven't played 'em in a couple of years. I know my players, as well as the staff and I, are excited to play in this rivalry game."
Durham scored 23 points to help the Friars hand Texas Tech its first loss of the season, 72-68, on Wednesday.
A.J. Reeves had 14 points and eight rebounds and Ed Croswell added 11 points and six boards off the bench for Providence, which trailed by as many as 12 points in the opening half.
The Friars won despite leading scorer Nate Watson finishing with five points on 1-of-4 shooting in 26 minutes.
Providence and Rhode Island both have two-game winning streaks.
The Rams held off Harvard for a 64-57 road win in their last game Wednesday.
Leggett's 16 points paced the Rams, who led by 21 early in the second half before the Crimson used a 21-1 surge to pull within 49-46 with 8:59 remaining. Rhode Island regrouped with a 12-4 push to take control for good.
Malik Martin had 13 points and nine rebounds while Makhel Mitchell added 13 points and seven boards for the Rams, who won despite leading scorer Jeremy Sheppard's scoreless, 0-for-4 shooting night.
--Field Level Media