Even Providence coach Tim Welsh was surprised by the way the Friars beat No. 23 Rhode Island.
"Funny things can happen in a basketball game," he said after Saturday's 87-63 victory, his first win as the Friars' coach and the Rams' worst loss since Dec. 27, 1995.
Providence scored 39 points off turnovers and Jamel Thomas poured in 30 points, connecting on five 3-pointers. He also had six rebounds.
"He's a great player. He took the team on his back in a lot of ways," Welsh said.
Rhode Island's highly touted sophomore, Lamar Odom, was held to five points, none in the second half, and made eight turnovers to go along with nine assists. Odom had scored a total of 39 points in Rhode Island's first two games.
"It was a very humbling experience," the 6-foot-11 Odom said. "They gave us a good old-fashioned spanking."
After a stellar season last year, Rhode Island (2-1) won its first two games of the new season at the CoSIDA Classic tournament on Monday and Tuesday. Providence College (1-2) lost two games during the same tournament.
"We started off emotionally high and maybe we were a little bit overconfident," Odom said.
Although Rhode Island outrebounded and shot for a higher percentage from the floor than Providence (1-2), the Friars capitalized on 26 turnovers by the Rams to take 29 more field goals attempts. Providence also hit 10 of 23 3-pointers.
| Rhode Island's Lamar Odom is shut down for the first time this season. (AP) |
After Rhode Island scored the first basket of the game, Providence scored the next eight points and never trailed again. Thomas scored 19 points, including three of his five 3-pointers, in the first half, helping Providence to a 38-29 lead.
After the break, Providence extended its lead to as many as 29 (80-51) with 3:17 left in the game.
Antonio Reynolds-Dean led Rhode Island with 12 points. Tavorris Bell added 11.
Sean Connolly scored 12, and Erron Maxey and Jamel Cameh each had 11 for Providence.
The 24-point win was Providence's largest margin over Rhode Island since a 99-73 victory in February 1967.
Rhode Island coach Jim Harrick said he was disappointed with his team, saying Odom "needs to learn some things out there" and the team was "out of sync."
"Sometimes you get high falutin," Harrick said. "They start thinking Final Four, they don't have to practice, they don't have to play hard."
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