Final Score: Pittsburgh 69, Villanova 57
Player of the Game: Scottie Reynolds, 26 pts, 6 reb, 4 ast
Recap: Villanova lost its third game in a row for the first time since the 2003-2004 season when they dropped five straight. Once again Villanova started out flat and fell behind quickly, but their defense kept them in the game, and they cut the deficit to six at halftime. The Wildcats led by Scottie Reynolds took a one point lead around the 13 minute mark in the second half, but then Pitt went on a 24-8 run to grab the victory. Jay Wright showed the willingness to switch up his rotation by benching Shane Clark for most of the game, only playing 3 minutes. However, Dwayne Anderson took most of his minutes, instead of Malcolm Grant. The continued lack of playing time for Grant has been the most frustrating part of this losing streak. The Wildcats are undefeated (7-0) in games that Grant has played 19 or more minutes. Tonight Malcolm only played 8 minutes, most of those coming at the end of the game when it was too late to come back anyway. I can understand Jay wanting to go with a bigger lineup that is better defensively, but clearly that is not working. So why not say the heck with it and throw Reynolds, Fisher, and Grant out on the floor together. It would be one thing if they were losing close games, but they way they have been getting blown out recently, it is apparent that major changes are needed, and I think it starts with Malcolm Grant getting the playing time he deserves.
Scottie Reynolds had a strong game scoring 26 points on 9-15 shooting, but he didn't get much help. The only other Wildcat in double figures was Antonio Pena who had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards, but he was a miserable 4-15 from the field. Reynolds shot 60% from the floor, but the rest of the team shot 29% for the game. Corey Stokes has had a couple of good shooting nights, but was 0-5 tonight and is shooting 25.5% from three for the season. Grant should be playing more for several reasons, but mostly because of his 3-point shooting. At 53.2% he is by far our most accurate shooter from behind the arc. Neither Dwayne Anderson, Reggie Redding, or Stokes contributed much offensively, but neither did Corey Fisher and Dante Cunningham who both average 10+ points per game. It was a good sign to see Casiem Drummond back in action, but I still don't think he's back to 100%. He looked soft going up to the basket getting his lay-up blocked, when he should up went up strong and dunked the ball.
On a side note I half to congratulate Tyrell Biggs on a game well-played. He is from my hometown of Nanuet, NY and I played with him in Little League and CYO basketball at St. Anthony's. He had 14 points and 4 rebounds in tonight's game. He was dominant back then, it's good to see him playing well in the Big East.
Next Game: Sat. Feb. 2 at Noon, vs. Syracuse, at the Wachovia Center