Wildcat Guards Too Much

  • February 08, 2010 10:16 PM
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By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
February 8, 2010


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Scottie Reynolds scored 21 points and Corey Fisher added 17 to lead No. 4 Villanova to an 82-75 victory over fifth-ranked West Virginia Monday night at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown.

  A dejected Kevin Jones walks off the floor after West Virginia's 82-75 loss to Villanova Monday night at the WVU Coliseum.
All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo

West Virginia, this week making its first appearance in the nation’s Top 5 in 48 years, couldn’t contain Villanova’s four-guard lineup that finished the game shooting 56.9% from the floor, including 45.5% from 3-point distance.

The smaller Wildcats also owned the glass, out-rebounding the Mountaineers 38-30, while cashing in at the free throw line where they made 19 of 22.

“They’re playing four guards and they out-rebound us 38-30,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “We have to make it up with other things.”

They certainly didn’t make it up at the free throw line, where the Mountaineers missed 14 (18 of 32) that could have made a difference in the game.

“Eighteen for 32? If it was a case of not practicing them I would say, ‘My fault for not practicing them.’ But we have. It’s not good.”

Reynolds and Fisher wound up scoring 17 of their 38 points from the free throw line despite Huggins’ pre-game warning that free throws are a big part of their game.

“One of the things we talked about was do not jump in the air and let them jump into you and let them get to the foul line,” Huggins said. “Stay on your feet because you’re bigger than them and if we switch, we’ve got 6-6 and 6-7 guys, and if we didn’t switch we still got 6-6 and 6-7 guys on them. Stay down and make them take hard shots.

“So the two guys that we said do not jump are 17 for 20 from the foul line.”

It was also a much different night for Da’Sean Butler, who scored a career-high 43 points against Villanova in a 93-72 WVU victory in Morgantown last year. Tonight, Butler was only 2 of 12 from the floor for 13 points. It appeared the Wildcats’ plan was to take Butler out of the game and force others to beat them.

“We didn’t do much right and in spite of that we were still in the game,” said Huggins. “We continued to compete.”

West Virginia tried 27 3-point field goals, making seven, while shooting 41% overall for the game.

Except for an early 5-4 lead, West Virginia was chasing Villanova all night.

The Wildcats built their lead to 11 and then to 13 (32-19) midway through the first half before taking a 44-33 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Wildcats shot 63.3% and scored 44 points in the first half on a West Virginia defense that came into the game surrendering just 61.5 points per game.

“If we give up 44 points in the first half then we’re not going to win, it’s just that simple,” said Huggins.

West Virginia used a 7-1 run at the start of the second half to cut Villanova’s lead to five, 45-40, and later got it down to three, 62-59, on an Ebanks dunk with 8:13 remaining. Then a Casey Mitchell foul put Stokes to the line where he made both, and then a dunk by Antonio Pena and a jumper by Reynolds pushed Villanova’s lead back to seven, 68-61.

A four-point play by Mitchell pulled West Virginia to within five, 74-69, with 1:59 to go. But once again, West Virginia couldn’t get a stop on the other end of the floor when Stokes converted a layup.

Two Reynolds free throws made it a nine-point advantage with 59 seconds left.

Pena contributed 10 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats, now 21-2, 10-1.

Villanova’s victory keeps the Wildcats on pace with Syracuse at the top of the Big East standings with 10-1 records.

"This was a great Big East victory for us," said Villanova coach Jay Wright. "WVU is always one of the toughest places to play and we've always had trouble scoring here with the way they play defense.

"It wouldn't have been the end of the world if we lost to them today because they're a good team, but it is huge doing it."

West Virginia (19-4 overall) now trails the league leaders by two games at 8-3.

“We’ve got to keep going,” said Huggins. “There are seven more league games to go.”

Truck Bryant led West Virginia with 15 points. Mitchell added 12 off the bench, all in the second half.

“Casey came in and maybe showed people why we recruited him so hard and he will continue to get better,” said Huggins. “I think he’s starting to understand things. I guess that’s a positive.”

The Mountaineers will play an unusual 9 p.m. Friday night game at Pitt that will be televised nationally on ESPN.