SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — College basketball in the Ocean State is in the national spotlight. It’s the annual matchup between Providence College and the University of Rhode Island.

For the first time on here on WPRI.com we’re going to have a Live Blog running during the game. Observations, thoughts and more will be updated as the action is happening.

Let’s get started with some pregame notes:

  • The game returns to Kingston for the first time in three years. Rhody was supposed to host in the Fall of 2020 but COVID got in the way.
  • No current player on either team has played in this rivalry at the Ryan Center.
  • Only two current Friars (Ed Croswell and Clifton Moore) have ever played Ryan Center. Their previous trips came with LaSalle University prior to their time in Providence.
  • The home team has won each of the last five meetings.
  • PC has not won in Kingston since 2015.

OK … let’s get going. Enjoy the game. Highlights and postgame reaction from each team will air on WPRI12 at 11 p.m. on Saturday December 3rd. All on-air content will be posted online as well.

Pregame

The guest arrive in the building.

A few minutes later, head coach Ed Cooley enters.

Rhody Ruckus in their seats early.

4:40 p.m.

My three keys for URI:

  1. Muck it up. Play the game in the 50’s or low 60’s. Be physical. Set the tone on home floor.
  2. Win in the margins. Control the controllables. Get to the line and make free throws. Win turnover battle. Limit live ball run outs.
  3. Keep the crowd it in. Give the home crowd a reason to stay involved all 40 minutes.

My three keys for PC:

  1. Strong start. Slow starts have plagued the Friars. Wednesday at TCU they fell behind 11-2 right off the jump.
  2. Bynum at his best. Does the 2021-2022 version of Jared Bynum show? Cooley sure needs him.
  3. Handle adversity. New team Young team. Inexperienced team. How do they handle their first true road atmosphere. A win in this environment will surely go a long way come Big East play.
Ed Cooley is going back to his original starting lineup after experimenting on Wednesday at TCU with Clifton Moore getting the nod over Noah Locke. Locke back in the first five with Moore coming off the bench.

After playing in Boston on Friday night, Miami Heat stars Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler are here court side. Of note, Friar guard Devin Carter’s father is an assistant for the Heat.

We’re off and running … frenetic pace. Both teams pushing the pace. Executing early. Huge for Noah Locke to see one go down. Same for Jared Bynum.

URI has to like its start as well. Malik Martin in post for and-one after Rams get switch on Bynum. Josaphat Bilau from deep. Brayon Freeman score.

14-11 URI at first media timeout which comes at 13:33. Long stretch there.

Rams ball control in half court and in transition is light years ahead of where it was just three weeks ago. Archie Miller’s impact is evident.

Noah Locke’s got 11 points and three triples. Ed Cooley’s decision to start him paying off.

Clifton Moore put back slam. Friars up 10 with 2:40 left until halftime. Big stretch for Rams coming up. Ryan Center is as quiet as it’s been.

Going into the break, points off turnovers ends at 13-0 Friars, points in the paint ends at 26-16. Friars trailed rebounding margin 13-8 and now lead 19-15.

URI is going to need to make a move quickly or this thing could get out of hand. Get it to near ten.

Devin Carter makes one or two “wow” plays a game. He’s a special, special athlete.

Alyn Breed has been a major factor. It’s his best game since his freshman year at Villanova.

Jared Bynum hasn’t done anything to ‘wow’ you yet, but he’s played a nice floor game. His calming demeanor has been impressive and what you expect from a fifth year guard on the road in a rivalry game.

^As I was typing this out, he hits a big three to keep URI from having a chance to cut the deficit to single digits. That’s his first three-ball in three games.

Give it to URI here. Despite score they’ve executed very well in the second half. 14-25 from the floor with just two turnovers in the second half with 5:33 left. The hole was just too deep to completely get out of.

PC 76-62 with 5:08 remaining in the ball game.

Going to ask Cooley postgame what he thought of his team playing with a big lead on the road in a hostile environment. For the first time being in this position together, they’ve played an excellent 20 minutes knowing Rhody was going to throw everything at them. Their lead hasn’t been trimmed to single digits. Two minutes left. 83-70.

Final, PC 88 URI 74. Ed Cooley is now 9-3 vs. URI and has his first win in Kingston since 2015.

“They did what they wanted to do offensively and that’s bothersome.” Archie Miller continued to stress how his team was pushed around on defense. Full court, half court, all of it. Says his team got “muscled.”

Final PC notes/thoughts:

  • This win should set the bar for the Friars going forward. They brought the requisite toughness and intensity from the jump. They were far from the malaise they were in for stretches of the first eight games.
  • Bryce Hopkins (14 points, 15 rebounds) was a man amongst boys. Ed Cooley said he expects this type of performance night in and night out. Archie Miller lauded Hopkins game afterward.
  • Jared Bynum played his best game of the season. As mentioned above, it was mainly about what he did aside from scoring. Yes, he had 10 points in the last 8:33 that helped put the game away but for the first time this year he didn’t force anything. He played a complete 40 minutes as a floor general. There’s as much scoring ability on this year’s Friar team as there was last year. He’s starting to figure out how he can get teammates involved first and then pick and choose spots to attack.
  • Alyn Breed was one point shy of reaching double figures. Had he gotten there, PC would have had seven in double figures for the first time in more than three years. Balanced scoring is going to be vital come conference play.
  • Friars host Manhattan on Wednesday and Albany on Saturday before Big East play begins Dec. 17 at Seton Hall.

Final URI notes/thoughts:

  • In the postgame presser, Archie Miller didn’t hold back about the lack of physicality and defense. Said they got ‘muscled’ by PC, and that the group made some ‘catastrophic’ mistakes during the pivotal stretch late in the first half that turned the game in PC’s favor. His honesty is appreciated and helps us scribes do our jobs better.
  • Rams continue to improve offensively. 74 points on nearly 48% from the floor against a Big East program is a far cry from the opener vs. Quinnipiac less than four weeks ago.
  • Miller is not one for silver linings. He rarely takes the glass-half-full approach, but his answer to the final question in the postgame press conference offered a glimpse into the future: