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21 January 2007

Villanova topples #21 Texas

posted by Pete @ LetsGoNova.com
1/21/2007 04:12:00 AM

Villanova 76
#21 Texas 69

(box score)

#21 Texas: 15-4 (3-1 B12)
Villanova:  12-5 (13-5, 2-3 BE, 3-0 B5)

Next game: at Providence, 01/23 @ The Dunk.

The story just before the game was the loss of Villanova's leading scorer, Curtis Sumpter, who was out with a bruised leg. The story during the game, however, was all about how the rest of the Wildcats stepped up and produced their second straight win over a ranked team.

Today, they got it done on the defensive end. Villanova held Kevin Durant, arguably the best player in the country, to 12 points overall and just 1 point in the second half. Durant had entered the game averaging 34 points his last 4 games.

Despite getting a career-high 25 points from rookie point guard D.J. Augustin, Texas could not stay with Villanova today.

With the likes of Durant, Augustin, and Texas guard A.J. Abrams playing, it is saying something to note that the best freshman on the floor at the Wachovia Center Saturday was Villanova's own Scottie Reynolds.

Reynolds once again put the team on his back and lit the Longhorns up for 26, one point short of the career high he set earlier this week against Notre Dame.

After adding in good performances by Dante Cunningham and Shane Clark, decent outings by Mike Nardi and Will Sheridan, and competent play from reserve guards Bilal Benn and Reggie Redding, Reynolds' scoring was enough to lift the 'Cats to an unlikely 2-0 record this week.

Next up for the 'Cats is Providence at the always-tough Dunkin' Donuts Center. Villanova will likely again be without Curtis Sumpter, according to Jay Wright. Wright said that Sumpter would probably return for Villanova's rematch with Notre Dame on Jan. 27 in South Bend.

Onto the player grades. As always, click "READ MORE" below for player performance grades and analysis.

  • Scottie Reynolds (S, 38 min)

    Scottie is getting a lot of national attention, and it is well deserved. Since Jay Wright unleashed Scottie and urged him to call his own number a few games ago, the freshman sensation has been on a tear. Reynolds led all scorers today with 26, and flew all around the court, going wherever he pleased whenever he wanted. He took it to the rim at will. His first step and ability to finish are unparalleled. Reynolds also co-led the team in assists, with 6, and led the team in steals with 3. He shot a decent 6-15 from the field and 2-6 from the three, and an excellent 12-13 from the line. His 4 turnovers don't even sour the performance at all, since his defense was so solid. Reynolds even helped guard superstar Durant on the perimeter, giving up about 8 inches. There is no question now that Reynolds is Villanova's best player.
    Grade: A

  • Mike Nardi (S, 38 min)

    Nardi played another good game tonight. He co-led the team in minutes (38) and assists (6), and scored 13 points. He shooting was a little off: 4-14 from the field and 3-11 from the three. Many times he was the beneficiary of a Reynolds drive and kick-out for the open three, only to see the shot rim out. If and when those shots start falling, the 'Cats are going to be hell to defend. Nardi also had 3 turnovers and 2 steals.
    Grade: B-

  • Dante Cunningham (S, 37 min)

    Cunningham has truly emerged these past two games as a primary offensive option. Dante scored 16 and pulled in 6 rebounds. He also had the most spectacular play of the night, a thunderous dunk all up on the grill of national player of the year candidate Kevin Durant. Perhaps most important, however, was Cunningham's role in shutting down Durant for most of the second half. One strange note is that Dante, the team's leader in steals, did not get any tonight. He also did not turn the ball over, however. Great game from Dante, who has emerged as the Cats' best post presence on both sides of the floor.
    Grade: A-

  • Shane Clark (S, 34 min)

    Clark put in a solid effort tonight, posting a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. He also doggedly pursued Durant everywhere but in the low post. His defense on Durant may be why Villanova won the game. Clark got sloppy right at the end of the game, missing two huge free throws and fouling a three-point shooter in the closing minutes. These mental lapses were probably due to the exhaustion of chasing around Durant all game. Clark's first start was a great defensive effort, with decent offensive work, as well.
    Grade: B

  • Will Sheridan (S, 24 min)

    Sheridan looked comfortable out there today. He pulled down 7 rebounds and scored 6 points on 2-4 shooting. He did turn the ball over a few times, but it was an otherwise solid effort.
    Grade: C+

  • Reggie Redding (18 min)

    Redding got some major minutes tonight. He looked sharp on the floor. Redding has excellent court awareness, not only for a freshman, but for any player. The ball handling and defense looked solid. The only problem was his shot. He missed all of his 3 shots, including 2 three-point attempts that had no chance. He did manage to shoot 2-2 from the free throw line, however. I think his shot will find itself as he gets into rhythm with more playing time.
    Grade: B-

  • Bilal Benn (9 min)

    Benn is such a great defender. It's rare to notice a player explicitly for his defense, but that is the case with Benn. Bilal did a little but of everything in his 9 minutes, notching 2 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist, and 1 turnover. It would have been nice to see him hit the pair of clutch free throws he missed, but otherwise it was a good run for Benn.
    Grade: C+

  • Incomplete grades:
    Dwayne Anderson
    (2 min), Frank Tchuisi (1 min).

  • Did not play:
    Curtis Sumpter
    (leg), Casiem Drummond (CD), Ross Condon (CD), Andrew Ott (RS), Antonio Pena (RS)

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At 2:29 PM, January 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few observations about Bump and Nardi...both did a lot of the dirt work in this game. For Mike all that was off was his shooting (which it turns out the 'Cats, despite missing Sumpter, did not need). His 6 assists set up Dante by and large and others in the paint. And his (and Sheridan's) defensive rebounds were crucial. The game plan forced Texas to put the ball into hands other than Abrams and Durant. It forced the role players to take their shots. And when they missed, Mike and Will (and others...) were there to rebound. Good strategy by the coaching staff. And good execution by the team.

At 2:38 PM, January 23, 2007, Blogger pete said...

Yeah, Greycat... they were great. The whole execution was fantastic as you said. It just goes to show when the team brings its A game, it can really beat anyone.


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