Final Score: Syracuse 87, Villanova 73
Player of the Game: Paul Harris 28 pts, 7 reb
Villanova Player of the Game: Corey Fisher 21 pts, 5-7 3-pt
Recap: Despite a strong start to the game, Villanova lost it's fourth straight, all losses by double digits. Nova's defense collapsed once again and gave up 87 points. Villanova was dishing and swishing early in the game, making great passes that led to easy baskets. They jumped out to a 26-15 lead, but then Donte Greene came alive and started sinking some threes and Nova went on another scoring drought. They struggled with Syracuse's size, getting out-rebounded 33-18. Villanova as a team had an impressive 20 assists on 26 made field goals. At the start of the game Nova played like fans had been expecting them to all season, but they weren't able to sustain it. The Wildcats have plenty of talent, but their problems stem from their youth. Right now this team doesn't have an identity, and they won't be able to win consistently until they discover their identity. It make take a year or two, or it may take a week. Either way, the future looks bright, although they are struggling in the present.
The 6'5 guard/forward Paul Harris created a match-up problem for the Wildcats. He played shooting guard, leaving Corey Fisher with the task of trying to guard the bigger and stronger Harris. Harris had his way, getting to the free throw line 16 times and scored a career-high 28 points. Fisher broke out his slump with 21 points on 7-15 shooting and 5-7 from three. The other bright spot of the game for Villanova was Casiem Drummond. He looked to be back in full form, connecting on several dunks to score 11 points on 5-7 shooting in the game. However, they all came in the first half, and he played very little minutes in the second half. The coaches most likely did not want to overwork while he is still recovering from the stress fracture in his ankle. When Drummond is on the floor they are able to run the offense from the inside out, making the team much better. Drummond also had 4 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Scottie Reynolds struggled most of the game, scoring 12 points, but most of those came at the end of the game when he was just chucking up threes. He fouled out towards the end, and appeared to be angry at Corey Stokes for not fouling Syracuse, forcing him to use his final foul. You can see the frustration growing with the team. Malcolm Grant got involved early and notched 3 assists, but failed to score and sat most of the second half until the very end of the game. Shane Clark did not play, and is apparently suffering from fatigue. This may explain his recent struggles. Clark has been struggling lately, but when healthy he's a valuable member of the team. Reggie Redding got the start and had a good game with 10 points and 6 assists. Dante Cunningham and Antonio Pena had sub par games. Cunningham's play should improve with Drummond back, as he'll be able to move back to the power forward position where he is more comfortable.
Villanova is now 3-6 in the Big East, putting them in the bottom four in the conference. I don't think they need to worry yet, but the bottom four teams do not make the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. As a change of pace, Villanova will face a non-conference opponent when they battle their crosstown rivals St. Joseph's Monday night. This would be a big win for Villanova, not only because it would end their losing streak, but St. Joe's is emerging as one of the top teams in the A-10 and it would be a good non-c0nference win on their resume. A win would also help get their confidence back up before they get back into conference play.
Next Game: Mon. Feb. 4, 8:00 PM, at St. Joseph's