Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Scottie Drops 40 (Again) in OT Win

Final Score: #17 Villanova 89, Seton Hall 85

Player of the Game: Scottie Reynolds, 40 points

Recap: Villanova won a thriller in overtime against Seton Hall to grab their first Big East victory of the season. Nova, up by 8 points with 3 minutes remaining, almost let this one get away when Jeremy Hazell banked in a three with 9 seconds left to force overtime. Scottie Reynolds and Dante Cunningham were clutch from the line in OT to seal the game.

Scottie Reynolds looked as good as he ever has in a Wildcat uniform tonight. He was firing on all cylinders offensively: from the outside he hit 5/8 3-pointers, and in the paint he got to line 16 times, making 15. Of course this was Scottie's second career 40-point game, the first coming in his freshman year at UConn. I was starting to think Scottie may have peaked too early, but he proved he is still one of the best guards in the nation with this performance.

Dante Cunningham had his sixth double-double of the season, and he only needed the first half to do it. He had 10 and 10 in the first and finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds. He had a season high 20 field goal attempts, making 7 of them. Dante is falling in love with the midrange jumper, which is fine because he has been almost automatic from around the free throw line. However, problems arise when he steps out further beyond his range, or when he stops going inside. Dante did an excellent job staying out of foul trouble enabling him to play all 45 minutes.

Reynolds may have scored 40 points, but Reggie Redding was just as important to the victory. Redding proved why he's the best perimeter defender on the team by shutting down Jeremy Hazell in the second half. Hazell put on a show in the first half, hitting contested fade-away threes to score 19 points. Jay Wright tried different match-ups against Hazell in the first, but he called on Redding to guard him the entire 2nd half and OT. Redding delivered, holding Hazell to 7 points in the final 25 minutes. His only mistake was losing Hazell for a second towards the end of regulation when he banked in the game-tying three. Redding also contributed on the other end of the floor by hitting some key baskets late in the game to finish with 10 points.

Dwayne Anderson had an absolute gutsy performance. He was all over the place, grabbing every loose ball available in the second half especially. He had a career-high 15 rebounds, including 7 offensive. Dwayne helped Nova out-rebound Seton Hall 47-36. He also had 2 blocks and 9 points, none bigger than his three-ball in overtime.

In their return to the Garden State, former Jersey high school stars Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes were no-shows in this one, with both Coreys going scoreless. Stokes was taken out of the starting lineup and only played 7 minutes total. This was due in part to Jay Wright preferring Redding's defense to Stokes' offense. However, I think Stokes sprained thumb is still bothering him, which is affecting his shooting. He is wearing a big bandage on his left hand, which can't be too comfortable. Coming off back-to-back 20+ point games, Fisher's poor performance was a little more alarming. He went 0-5 from the field in 16 minutes and had 2 assists and 2 turnovers. He has been inconsistent this season with a tendency to disappear after getting off to a bad start. He got the start tonight, but he may be better suited in a sixth man role to bring instant scoring off the bench.

Antonio Pena had a very solid night: 7 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists. Most importantly he stayed on the floor, committing only 1 personal foul all game. Shane Clark chipped in 2 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists off the bench- a quiet night, but he made some noise with a monster dunk.

This was Villanova's (and my) first trip to the Prudential Center in Newark, and it is a very nice modern arena. It shows a lot about the toughness of this team, that they were able to pull out a victory in overtime on the road. It's difficult to begin the Big East season with two road games, and ultimately you have to be happy with a split. But as I've said before, Nova has to defend it's home court Saturday vs. Louisville.

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