Mountaineers Take on Wildcats
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
February 7, 2010
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A snowstorm started Villanova’s 11-game winning streak and another major snow event ended it on Saturday at Georgetown. So what will Monday bring for the Wildcats when they take on West Virginia in Morgantown?
Villanova (20-2, 9-1) lost its grasp of first place in the Big East standings with a 103-90 loss at Georgetown on Saturday. On Sunday, Syracuse knocked off Cincinnati 71-54 to take over the top spot with a 10-1 record.
Sitting in third place 1 ½ games back is West Virginia with an 8-2 record. For a good part of Saturday’s game at St. John’s, it didn’t look like the Mountaineers (19-3 overall for the first time since 1998) were going to get win No. 8 in league play.
The Red Storm led by 16 points early in the second half before a 35-point swing gave the Mountaineers a 79-60 victory. Da’Sean Butler scored a season-high 33 points and Devin Ebanks had a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double.
“Da’Sean has such a great will to win and he really shot the ball well,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, who is looking for Butler to use his size a little more inside against smaller guards.
“There were times when he was our best post player before and he keeps drifting on me,” said Huggins. “We need him to sit down in there a little bit better. He’s clever in there and we’ve got to put a little more pressure on the rim than we have.”
Villanova also dug itself a big hole early at Georgetown, trailing the Hoyas by 19 at halftime, but the Wildcats couldn’t climb out.
Austin Freeman scored 25 points and Jason Clark added 24 for the Hoyas, which shot 57.1% overall including 52.6% (10 of 19) from 3-point distance. Georgetown really cashed in from the free throw line, making 39 of 50.
Villanova took 19 more shots than the Hoyas but managed to shoot just 46.4% that included 32.1% from 3-point range.
The Wildcats also had trouble knocking down shots against West Virginia in a 93-72 loss to the Mountaineers last year in Morgantown. Villanova was just 5 of 18 from 3 and shot 42.3% overall in that game. Scottie Reynolds was 3 of 11 shooting and finished with 12 points. Villanova’s All-American candidate is averaging 18.7 points per game this year and scored 24 on Saturday in the Georgetown loss.
Reynolds is now fifth on Villanova’s all-time scoring list with 2,032 points, recently passing John Pinone, Allan Ray and Howard Porter. Reynolds needs just six points to pass Wildcat assistant coach Doug West for fourth place.
Corey Fisher, who scored 17 in last year’s game in Morgantown, is averaging 13.7 points per game. Fisher recently reached the 1,000-point mark, becoming the 52nd Villanova player to do so.
Two other guards, Corey Stokes and Reggie Redding, make up Villanova’s four-guard lineup. Stokes is averaging 9.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, while Redding shows averages of 8.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
Six-eight junior Antonio Pena is averaging 11 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Coach Jay Wright’s top three off the bench are 6-6 sophomore Taylor King (9.1 ppg. and 5.9 rpg.), 6-1 freshman Maalik Wayns (8.5 ppg) and 6-6 freshman Dominic Cheek (5.4 ppg. and 2.8 rpg.).
Wright also has a pair of freshman bigs available in Mouphtaou Yarou (3.1 ppg.) and Maurice Sutton (2.2 ppg.). Villanova has five former McDonald’s All-Americans on its roster.
Despite its four-guard system, Villanova holds its own on the glass, out-rebounding its opponents by more than seven boards per game (40.5 to 33.3).
Butler, Ebanks and Kevin Jones have been responsible for 55% of West Virginia’s scoring and 54.4% of its rebounding. The Mountaineers are 16-0 this year when holding their opponents to 69 points or less.
Villanova’s 93-72 loss at West Virginia in 2009 was its worst during its first Final Four appearance under Wright, now 50-10 in his last two seasons at Villanova.
Butler went for a career-high 43 points including six 3s against the Wildcats. Ebanks also had a strong game, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
West Virginia and Villanova will be meeting for the 39th time and the 16th in Morgantown. The Mountaineers are 12-3 against the Wildcats in home games including a 9-3 record at the Coliseum. West Virginia is 5-2 at the Coliseum against Villanova since joining the Big East with consecutive wins heading into Monday night’s game.
Weather conditions forced West Virginia to stay an extra night in New York City. The team returned to Morgantown Sunday morning in time for an afternoon workout at the Coliseum. Villanova was scheduled to but from Washington, D.C., to Morgantown in time for an early evening workout.
Monday’s game could be the third time two Top 10-ranked teams will square off in Morgantown. Ironically, the first meeting came against Villanova on Jan. 16, 1960 when West Virginia was ranked No. 3 and Villanova was No. 9.
Both could be in the Top 5 when the polls are released Monday morning with Michigan State losing to Illinois on Saturday. Villanova was No. 2 last week while West Virginia was No. 6.
The Mountaineers’ last appearance in the Top 5 came on Dec. 4, 1962 when they were ranked No. 3.
West Virginia is now 33-6 under Huggins in games played at the Coliseum.
Monday’s game will tipoff at 7 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN (Sean McDonough, Bill Raftery and Jay Bilas).
It is the first of three ESPN Big Monday games for West Virginia this year.
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