Hart and Jenkins Lead Nova Past Providence, 78-68



Wyatt Noble


The Wildcats improved to 19-1 overall and 7-1 in BIG EAST Conference play on Saturday as they defeated Providence 78-68 at the Wells Fargo Center. Though not a blow out, it was a strong showing from the Wildcats with four of the team’s starting five reaching double digits in points scored.


Senior Captain Josh Hart posted a game high 25 points while shooting 10-16 from the field, an impressive display that has become somewhat routine for the AP Player of the Year Award candidate from Silver Spring, Maryland. Fellow Senior and Captain, Kris Jenkins also had another strong performance scoring 19 points while going 7-12 from the field.


“Both of them are two of the best players in college basketball, and we’re lucky to have them on our team.” Head Coach Jay Wright said, “They do everything, they defend, they rebound, they’re leaders, they score, they pass and they’re just complete players.”


Coach Wright stressed the importance of the duo throughout his post game press conference, and the stats support everything he said. Both Hart and Jenkins registered four assists, and two steals each, while Hart snagged six rebounds, and Jenkins four. The Wildcat’s basketball talismen played well rounded games, yet the team struggled to pull away from Providence as they had done so with Seton Hall in their previous game.


Indeed it helps to have outstanding players such as Hart and Jenkins, especially when their backup is also outstanding. The Wildcats were bolstered by the scoring of both Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges who have both been consistent scoring threats for the team all season. Bridges scored 15 points on 6-13 shooting, and Brunson added another 13 on 4-8. Despite scoring with ease throughout the game, the team did struggle to open a decisive lead over their opponents.


The Wildcats went into halftime with just a four point lead over their conference rivals by the score of 35-31. This was thanks in large part to the work of Providence’s starman, Junior Guard, Kyron Cartwright who was 4-7 in the first half. Unfortunately for Providence, their talented junior guard was limited by illness in the second half and managed only one more basket and 12 points total. Providence was however, buoyed by the performances of Junior Forward, Rodney Bullock, who scored a team high 17 points, and Junior Guard Jalen Lindsey, who added 14 points.


However, even without Cartwright playing to his full potential, Providence continued to pester the country’s number one college basketball team.


“How you play zone is important.” Coach Wright said, “We actually got really good by the end of the year last year, at zone defense. Right now it’s…poor.”


With the team struggling for consistency defensively, it was always going to be a tough matchup for a team that has relied heavily upon three point shooting throughout the season.


“They do a great job of taking away threes. They really extend their zone.” Said Coach Wright, “I thought our guys did a really good job of reading their extended defense and not taking contested threes.”


Though the team only took 17 three point shots, they were able to score with ease inside as they outscored their opponents 38-14 in the paint.


Despite the team reclaiming its number one spot in all college basketball rankings and having won five games on the trot since their hiccup against Butler, Coach Wright is adamant that his team can and will improve during the remainder of the season.


The Wildcats look to continue their winning form on the 24th as they travel to Wisconsin to square off against Marquette for the second time this season.