AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Providence went all the way down to Texas to get a big win before heading back into the Big East.
Alpha Diallo scored 20 points and Isaiah Jackson scored 12 to send the Friars to a tough 71-65 victory over Texas on Friday night. The Friars earned some swagger they can take back home.
“There’s no soft things in our program,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “I don’t like soft.”
The Friars (10-3) were anything but soft in a game they never trailed. They outrebounded Texas, held the Longhorns to 38 percent shooting and closed the game out from the line when Diallo made four free throws over the final 22 seconds.
They also made the shots they needed to squelch the few times Texas mounted a rally.
The Longhorns (7-4) had closed within 51-50 before the Friars quickly stretched the lead back to eight, with the key basket coming on a 3-pointer from Makai Ashton-Langford that beat the shot clock.
“It was almost a game-saver,” Cooley said. “When he made that shot, I thought we had a shot to win the game.”
Texas cut the Friars’ lead to 64-62 on a tough layup from Elijah Mitrou-Long to beat the shot clock with 2 minutes left. But Texas’ next two possessions saw the Longhorns miss open 3-pointers and they never threatened the lead again.
The Longhorns made a final bid when Matt Coleman III made a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left and nearly forced a Friars turnover. After a video review of the play, the ball stayed with Providence and Diallo made his final free throws.
Jaxson Hayes and Coleman each scored 13 points for the Longhorns.
Providence: The Friars had to slug out a win in a game they were controlling throughout the first half when they led by as much as 13. Second-half fouls and struggles handling Texas’ full-court pressure defense kept the Longhorns in the game. The Friars’ own defense helped bail them out. The Friars forced Texas guards Coleman, Mitrou-Long and Courtney Ramey into nine turnovers.
Texas: The Longhorns had snapped a three-game losing skid when they found their shooting touch from long range. It disappeared again against the Friars. After shooting 49 percent on 3-pointers the previous two games, the Longhorns were just 6 of 24 in the loss, with a 3-of-14 effort in the second half. It didn’t help that Texas was without leading scorer Kerwin Roach II, who missed the game with a stomach illness.
“The ball didn’t go in,” Coleman said. “(Roach) was missed. We still are capable enough to get the job done.”
Hayes hasn’t started a game yet this season, but Texas coach Shaka Smart is going to have a hard time keeping him off the court at tipoff as his game keeps improving and he keeps generating buzz as a potential NBA draft pick next summer.
The 6-foot-11 forward is 16-of-16 shooting over the last three games. He came on for sophomore Jericho Sims who didn’t score and had just one rebound in 6 minutes in the first half. Sims never returned.
Hayes’ only blemish was a technical foul in the first half when he yelled toward a Providence player after a dunk.
“The technical foul was a costly one, it put him in foul trouble the rest of the game,” Smart said. “He’s obviously playing better than any of our bigs.”
The Friars have won three in a row since losing standout freshman guard A.J. Reeves to a foot injury. Reeves is expected to miss more games, but junior Maliek White had another solid game in his place with nine points and a game-high five assists.
Providence: The Friars host Creighton in their Big East opener on Jan. 31.
Texas: The Longhorns host UT-Arlington on Dec. 28 in their final game before the Big 12 schedule starts.