Unbeaten Providence presents a challenge for Virginia

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Virginia will be looking to win its seventh November tournament title in the past eight seasons when it meets unbeaten Providence in the Legends Classic final Tuesday night in Newark, N.J.

The Cavaliers (3-2) surged into the championship game with a strong second half against Georgia in Monday’s first semifinal, outscoring the Bulldogs 34-21 after the break for a 65-55 win.

Meanwhile the Friars (5-0) never trailed in their 77-72 semifinal victory over Northwestern, shooting 48.3 percent (14 of 29) from 3-point range to hand the Wildcats their first loss of the season.

Virginia is 4-3 all-time against Providence. The last time they met was during one of Virginia’s previous tournament championships, a 63-52 win over the Friars in the Emerald Coast Classic final on Nov. 26, 2016, in Niceville, Fla.

Providence reached a milestone Monday against Northwestern with the program’s 1,500th win. A win on Tuesday night would be the 200th at Providence for head coach Ed Cooley (199-135).

“If we make our threes, that’s a difference maker,” Cooley said before the tournament.

Proving his point against Northwestern, Providence knocked down 8 of 16 from behind the arc in the first half to build a 36-27 halftime lead.

After extending the lead to 18 in the second half, the Friars survived a late run by the Wildcats and finished with five players in double figures: Nate Watson (16 points), Jared Bynum (15), Brycen Goodine (12) and Noah Horchler and Al Durham with 11 each.

The star for Virginia on Monday night was Armaan Franklin, who tied his career high with 23 points and added six rebounds and three steals against Georgia. The Indiana transfer scored 11 of Virginia’s first 13 points and six of its last 12.

“He shot the pull-up. He got to the rim. He showed some completeness,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said.

The Cavaliers committed only four turnovers in the contest and limited the Bulldogs to 14.3 percent shooting (3 of 21) from 3-point distance, including 1 of 13 in the second half. UVA outscored Georgia 16-7 in the final 6:21.

–Field Level Media

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