UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Providence guard Kris Dunn had been waiting a long time for a homecoming game. He got the closest thing possible Saturday when the Friars played in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic at Mohegan Sun Arena.
And when Dunn headed to the bench with just over two minutes remaining in the game, the crowd showed its appreciation with a standing ovation for his 15-point, 9-assist performance that helped Providence (4-0) to a wire-to-wire 80-54 domination of Florida State (1-2).
Dunn, a 6-3 sophomore, had the support of Friars fans in addition to family and friends from his hometown of New London, Connecticut — just about six miles away. Joined by teammates LaDontae Henton (24 points) and Jalen Lindsey (15 points), Dunn and the Friars jumped out to an 11-0 lead and were never forced to look back against the Seminoles.
“Coming back home there’s always excitement,” Dunn said. “I had a lot of energy coming into the game. My teammates did an unbelievable job keeping me poised. It was a great team win. I just let my teammates help me.”
Henton was 8-for-11 from the field and scored 19 of his points in the second half after Providence had bolted to a 34-19 lead at halftime. And Lindsey, who had been slowed earlier in the season by a dislocated finger on his shooting hand, hit four of his five 3-pointers in the second half to take care of the outside scoring.
Coach Ed Cooley, who said he scheduled this early season event as a recruiting tool for Dunn, said he hopes the Providence fans exert the same energy Sunday when the Friars return to the building to play Notre Dame, an 81-68 winner over UMass Saturday.
“I thought we fed off the crowd,” Cooley said. “I thought we were playing at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center (in Providence).”
A powerful dunk by Henton gave the Friars a 46-29 lead and forced Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton to call timeout with 13:18 left. The rest of the game was close to a highlight reel for Providence, with Dunn dishing off to Henton and Lindsey (5-for-6 on 3-pointers).
Aaron Thomas led Florida State with 16 points. Montay Brandon had 13 points for the Seminoles, who shot 39 percent from the field and 17 percent from 3-point range.
The Friars scored five points in the first minute of the game and then jumped out to an 11-0 lead with 15:24 remaining before halftime. Henton opened the scoring with a 3-pointer and Dunn added a layup for the quick 5-0 lead.
Henton’s 3-pointer at 19:34 was his only basket of the first half. But Hamilton knew it wasn’t a good sign.
“He just had one of those nights,” Hamilton said of Henton. “The first 3 he hit to begin the game, I looked at my (assistants) and said, ‘I hope there’s not a whole lot more of that coming.’ ”
Florida State, which lost to Northeastern 76-73 on Nov. 18, didn’t score until Thomas hit two free throws with 15:08 left in the opening half. The Seminoles got their first field goal on a layup by Michael Ojo with 13:21 remaining. That cut Providence’s lead to 13-4.
“We’ve finally developed a rotation and built some chemistry,” Cooley said. “I think Chris is getting more comfortable. I enjoy coaching this group because of their mental toughness. Our energy was good from the jump and we had a purpose.”
Providence: Henton, a senior from Lansing, Michigan, has a chance to become the seventh player in Friar history to record more than 1,000 points and more than 1,000 rebounds in his career. Through Saturday Henton has 1,469 points and 859 rebounds in 105 career games. Ryan Gomes, Marvin Barnes, John Thompson, Jim Hadnot, Geoff McDermott and Michal Smith are the other Friars with that double-double.
Florida State: The Seminoles made just three field goals in the first 14 minutes of the game. Florida State opened up 3-for-15 and trailed 25-9 with 6:02 left before halftime. The Seminoles missed all seven 3-pointers they attempted in the first half and were shooting 27.3 percent (6-for-22) at the break. They finished shooting 39.1 percent.
DEALT A HOT HAND
Providence freshman Jalen Lindsey had scored just eight points in his first three games. The dislocated finger on his shooting hand didn’t seem to be bothering him as much as he hit 5 of 6 shots — all 3-pointers. “I hope his hand feels the same exact way tomorrow,” Cooley said. “Whether it’s sore, getting better, stitches flying out of it. We want to keep that hand rolling.”
Providence vs. Notre Dame in Uncasville, Connecticut. on Sunday
Florida State vs. UMass in Uncasville on Sunday
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