For the first time since 2003, Villanova was one-and-done in the Big East tournament. Instead of using the tournament as a way to start a turnaround, the Wildcats suffered their fifth loss in the last seven games. Let’s look at the latest of those defeats:
- Marquette was unbelievably hot from beyond the arc. It hit all six of its attempts in the second half. More than anyone else it was Darius Johnson-Odom who hurt the Wildcats. He was 5-for-7 from deep and finished with 24 points.
- One of the reasons the Golden Eagles were able to shoot so well from deep was their patience on offense. They routinely wound the shot clock down and waited for an open three. Villanova was often too slow to rotate, and Marquette was rewarded for its patience.
- The dagger was a Lazar Hayward 3-point shot that broke a 70-70 tie with 1:51 remaining. The Wildcats never managed to tie the game again.
- The win for Marquette was sweet revenge after losing four straight to Villanova. The last four meetings between the teams have been decided by a combined nine points.
- Scottie Reynolds played possibly his worst game of the Big East season. He hit just four of ten shots and finished with 10 points. He now stands 49 points behind Kerry Kittles for the the most points in Villanova history. The Wildcats would likely have to advance to the Sweet 16 for him to break the mark.
- Villanova got off to a very slow start, and one of the reasons why was its 10 first half turnovers. Effects of the double-bye or just the standard for Villanova now?
- Corey Stokes was clearly the Wildcats best player, scoring 22 points off the bench. He hit eight of nine shots, including six of seven from long range.
- Maalik Wayns had one of his better games in recent memory, scoring eight points off the bench.
- One Wildcat who had a particularly poor performance was Reggie Redding. He shot 1-for-9 from the field and finished with just two points. He also took a very questionable shot with Villanova down 73-70 with 1:20 remaining when he forced a layup in traffic. The Wildcats never had the ball down one score again. Despite the performance, Redding led the team with 38 minutes.
- Taylor King, who’s status was questionable until Tuesday, played two minutes, committed a reckless foul and was then benched for the rest of the game. Isaiah Armwood didn’t play at all.
- The Wildcats only committed 17 fouls, held the rebounding advantage and shot a higher-percentage than Marquette but still lost.
- After the game Reynolds made a very interesting comment by saying that he felt the Wildcats were better now than they were when they were ranked No. 2 in the country. Whether its delusion or trying to remain confident, the Wildcats do not sound like a team that is free-falling the last month.
– David Cassilo
At times it wasn’t pretty, but Villanova got the job done as it knocked off the Bearcats to pick up a road win. The victory may not have been enough to silence doubts, but a win is a win. Here’s a look at the most important aspects of the game:
- Remarkably, the first 13 points of the game were scored by Antonio Pena, Corey Stokes and Mouphtaou Yarou. Stokes had a particularly strong start, scoring 10 points in the first half. The Wildcats needed it as Scottie Reynolds was held scoreless in the first half.
- For one of the first times this season, there were many questions from Wildcat fans about Jay Wright’s rotation. Corey Fisher was subbed from the game almost immediately, and didn’t return for about 10 minutes. Reynolds also sat for five minutes in the first half, and the two played together for just a few minutes in the first half. In the second half both players found themselves on the bench for long stretches yet again. Meanwhile, Reggie Redding led the team in minutes.
- While there was a bad call here and there, the fouling generally went in Villanova’s favor for what seemed like the first time in a month. Cincinnati committed two more fouls (24-22) and sent the Wildcats to the line 14 more times (35-21). It was only the second time in the Big East that the Wildcats had a +10 differential at the line.
- The Wildcats used a 12-1 run to open up the second half and seize control of the game.
- Villanova fans were feeling good about their team when it led 66-51 with 6:08 remaining, but a 14-0 run by Cincinnati over the next 3:26 made it a game again. Much of that run came with Reynolds on the bench, highlighting the strange rotation that Villanova had for most of the game. Reynolds, who has been well-rested all season, played 29 minutes.
- Reynolds once again had a strong second half, scoring all of his 17 points there. He took just one shot in the first half, and finished 3-for-6 in the game.
- The Wildcats almost gave the game away with turnovers by Stokes and Maalik Wayns in the final minute, but the Bearcats were unable to work their way back.
- Cincinnati took 22 more shots than Villanova (66-44) and made just 7 of 30 3-point attempts.
- Yarou once again started and looked strong. He finished with 10 points and seems to have carved out a role in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season.
- Pena fouled out for the eighth time this season, while Taylor King did the same for his fifth time.
- The Wildcats basically went eight deep tonight as Dominic Cheek and Isaiah Armwood played a combined six minutes.
– David Cassilo
For the first time this season, Villanova dropped a game it had no business losing – a home game against a struggling UConn Huskies team. A day after getting a leg up in the Big East race when Syracuse fell at home to Louisville, the Wildcats gave it right back. Here is a look from every angle at Monday’s loss:
- Mouphtaou Yarou: The highly touted freshman finally showed signs of life as he finished with 6 points 5 rebounds and 3 blocks in 13 minutes. After not playing much recently due to matchups, the Wildcats needed Yarou against Connecticut’s big frontcourt, and he did not disappoint.
- Antonio Pena: The five fouls were obviously bad, but keep in mind that when Pena was on the floor he was an offensive threat against the bigger UConn defenders. In just 18 minutes, Pena finished with 10 points.
- Scottie Reynolds’ Second Half: After scoring 14 first half points, the Huskies put the lockdown on Reynolds by double-teaming him. The result: Just four second half points. It’s hard to fault Reynolds too much when he had 18 points, but the Wildcats really needed him in this one.
- Corey Fisher’s start: The junior guard finished the game strong, but until midway in the second half he had just 5 points. With Reynolds being guarded tightly and no one else on the team stepping up, the Wildcats needed Fisher to attack the rim more. He eventually did, but it came a bit too late.
- The third scoring option: Once again, Villanova struggled to find any scoring outside of Reynolds and Fisher. It got 10 points from Pena, but he was limited all game by foul trouble. Reggie Redding had just 9 points, while Corey Stokes took just four shots and scored 4 points after picking two early fouls and playing 14 minutes.
- The bench: The Wildcats’ bench was outscored 27-17. After being one of the team’s strong points for most of the season, it seems almost everyone on the bench has gone into a scoring slump. Perhaps a swap of Isaiah Armwood and Stokes might be a good idea to add some defense to the starting lineup and some offense to the bench.
- Fouls: Villanova picked up four fouls in the first two minutes, and you could tell instantly this was going to be a tough game for the Wildcats to win. Overall, they committed 30 fouls in the game, sending UConn to the line 44 times. This comes just nine days after Villanova allowed Georgetown to take 50 free throw attempts. Kemba Walker, who had a career-high for UConn with 29 points, took 16 free throw attempts while the entire Wildcats’ team took 20. Some of this can be blamed on the referees but most of it falls on Villanova.
- Defense: The Wildcats did not look bad defensively in the first half, but the second half was a totally different story. UConn shot 66.7 percent from the field in the second half, making 10 of 15 shots. Part of the defensive woes was the fouling, and this was never more evident than in the final five minutes. During that time span, when Villanova needed crucial stops, not only did they not get those stops, but UConn attempted 16 free throws while taking just three shots. Not the way you want to play defense.
- Taylor King: When the entire student section yells, “No!” while you shoot, you realize that you are in a tough stretch. King was 0-for-6 , all 3-point attempts, against UConn and is now 1-for-16 in his last three games. Wright seems to like everything else he is doing, and it seems that King will get a chance to try to work his way through the slump.
- Maurice Sutton: Five very ugly fouls in just nine minutes. End of story.
Villanova got the signature road win it needed and recovered from its loss to Georgetown with a very strong performance. The win was also sweet revenge for a 93-72 loss in Morgantown last season. Here are some of the interesting notes from the game:
- With the win, Villanova has not lost back-to-back games since Mar. 2 , 2008 when it fell to Louisville after losing to Marquette.
- Corey Fisher, who is quietly have a very strong season, set the tone early for the Wildcats and finished with 17 points. Were it not for foul trouble, it could have been a very big night for Fisher.
- Scottie Reynolds led the team in scoring against, with 21 points. With 19 of those points coming in the second half, he has been one of the best second half players all season. I am trying to find out where his second half scoring average ranks nationally.
- The other three starters stepped us for Villanova, as well. Specifically it was Antonio Pena who looked great, finishing with 10 points and nine rebounds. Whenever he plays well, it greatly enhances Villanova’s chance of victory.
- The Wildcats got very strong contributions from Isaiah Armwood and Dominic Cheek, who had eight and seven points respectively. Both have earned the right for more minutes, mainly because of their work on the defensive end, as well.
- Mouphtaou Yarou did not get into the game, and Maalik Wayns played just three minutes. It remains to be seen what the reason for this was, but I suspect it has to do with being more consistent defensively.
- Speaking of the defense, the Wildcats played a lot better in that area, holding West Virginia to a 4-for-21 start from the field. Villanova eliminated its press, and it seemed to help.
- Against the much bigger West Virginia team, the Wildcats won the rebounding battle, 37-27.
- Villanova was helped out from the free throw line as it made 19 of 22 attempts while West Virginia made just 18 of 32.
- Taylor King continues to struggle to find his stroke, missing all six attempts he had from the field.
- Da’Sean Butler, who had 43 points last time these two teams played, finished with just 13 after making 2 of 12 shots from the field.
- West Virginia actually outscored the Villanova bench, 22-19.
– David Cassilo
One year ago today, The Villanovan Sports Blog started with a recap of a 71-50 win over Cincinnati. Now, 164 posts, 33 wins and one Final Four later, and we have decided to spend the week commemorating what has been a magical 12 months for Villanova basketball.
What follows is the first of five installments in our week-long series of counting down the top 10 Villanova basketball moments of the past year.
10. Villanova wins the Puerto Rico Tip-Off- Nov. 22, 2009
It is easy to forget that the Villanova season almost began with disaster. After starting 2-0 the Wildcats traveled down to Puerto Rico for a three-game tournament. Even before they stepped on the court, the team was given devastating news as starting freshman center Mouphtaou Yarou was sent home with a viral infection. That viral infection turned out to be Hepatitis B, and Yarou missed eleven games.
A now thin Wildcats team barely survived its first game against George Mason, needing a furious second half comeback and a game-winning three-point shot from the unlikeliest of heros, freshman forward Isaiah Armwood, who played just four minutes. Those three points were his first of the season.
Villanova then handled Dayton and Ole Miss to win the tournament. Junior forward Antonio Pena had an impressive 17 points and 16 rebounds in the final game and earned himself the tournament’s MVP.
9. Scottie Reynolds returns for his senior season- June 9, 2009
With the option to enter the NBA draft and still be able to return the school, Reynolds took a calculated risk and put his name in the draft pool without signing an agent. After participating in workouts for several teams, Reynolds decided his best option would be to return to Villanova for his senior season.
Thus far, it seems like he made the right move as Villanova is 19-1, and Reynolds is averaging a career-best 18.7 points per game. His strong play has his name in both Big East and National Player of the Year conversations, and the Wildcats are off to their best start ever and highest ranking in school history.
It doesn’t get this easy often in the Big East, but with a rigorous conference schedule ahead of them the Wildcats were happy to get a laugher. Villanova seemed to do everything right as it showcased a deep and prolific offense, while also dominating DePaul defensively for much of the first half.
It was the play of the Villanova guards that set the tone for an easy evening against the Blue Demons. Once again, Scottie Reynolds was the top Wildcat on the scoresheet, finishing with 21 points. It was the sixth time in seven games that Reynolds had topped 20 points. Reynolds also shot at a very high percentage once again, hitting 8 of 13 shots.
However it seemed like Reynolds 21 points were a quiet evening compared to the play of freshman guard Maalik Wayns. He exploded off the bench for 18 points, giving him 34 in his last two games. Wayns showed off his speed, hitting several coast to coast layups in what seemed like a matter of seconds.
Two other Wildcats were in double-figures as Corey Fisher finished with 15 points and Reggie Redding with 10.
One Wildcat guard, Corey Stokes, was out of the lineup with a hamstring strain. This put freshman forward Isaiah Armwood into the starting lineup, and he responded with 6 points and 7 rebounds. After almost being redshirted, Armwood has come on faster than head coach Jay Wright could have imagined and seems to have earned himself a role as a rotation player the rest of the season.
The game also was the return of freshman center Mouphtaou Yarou, who had been out since Nov. 16 with Hepatitis B. In 14 minutes of action, Yarou had 4 points and 2 rebounds. In many ways it is like starting the season again for Yarou, and he did not look much different than he did for the season’s first two games.
Next up for the Wildcats will be rematch with Marquette on Saturday at the Pavilion.
Despite having almost everything possibly go wrong, Villanova survived an upset attempt by George Mason and advanced to the second round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on a 3-point shot by freshman forward Isaiah Armwood.
The day began on a bad note even before the game started as freshman forward Mouphtaou Yarou was forced to return to Villanova after coming down with a viral infection. Things got worse as the Wildcats saw Antonio Pena, Taylor King, Corey Stokes and Maurice Sutton all foul out in the game. Meanwhile, Scottie Reynolds committed ten turnovers, and Corey Fisher made just 1-of-14 shots from the field.
However, the Wildcats overall talent was enough to get by George Mason. A furious second-half comeback had the Wildcats down four with less than a minute to play. Maalk Wayns then connected on a 3-point shot to pull the team within one. After a George Mason free throw, Reynolds drove to the lane and kicked the ball out to Armwood, who connected to give Villanova the 0ne-point lead. In George Mason’s final possession they failed to get a shot off before time expired.
Reynolds led all Wildcats in points with 18, while Fisher finished close behind with 17, including a 14-of-18 day from the foul line. Pena recorded his second straight double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
With the win Villanova will now face Dayton in the second round. The game will be tomorrow at 3 p.m.