First match up of the college basketball season between No. 4 and No. 5 teams in the country as WVU hosts Villanova.
–This Villanova team is loaded with talent as the roster includes five McDonald’s All-Americans. Coach Jay Wright continues to pull in premier talent from the major urban centers on the east coast inclulding Philadelphia, New York/New Jersey and Baltimore.
–Rough first half for the Mountaineers as WVU shot 35% while Villanova shot 63%. Villanova solved the WVU 1-3-1 defense with great passing. The Wildcats attacked inside with Antonio Pena first. Freshman Isaiah Armwood and Maurice Sutton also had baskets against the zone.
–The scary thing about the Villanova 11 point lead is that Scottie Reynolds (the 5th leading scorer in the Big East) had just one field goal. Reynolds didn’t score until just :15 remained in the first half.
–The Villanova bench was huge as well as it contributed 17 points. The Mountaineers felt they had a huge advantage inside against a Villanova team tha plays four guards. The Wildcats outscored WVU 22-12 in the paint during the first half.
–Good second half start for WVU at 7-1. Devin Ebanks scored twice early in the half after being held without a field goal in the first half. Da’Sean Butler and Deniz Kalicli both managed to get to the line in the first half (they combined to go 9-12, but Butler was held to 2-8 shooting. You knew the Villanova defense would tag him after he scored 43 in the game last year.
–Mountaineers are climbing back in with defense. They held Villanova without a field goal for the first 6:30 of the second half, unfortunately WVU can’t find the offensive rhythm.
–Watch out if Reynolds heats up. He scored the first two field goals for ‘Nova in the second half. The first was a three, the second led to a three point play. Villanova is back up by ten.
–A Casey Mitchell siting! Mitchell had not scored more than three points in a game since the ‘Ole Miss game at the Coliseum back on Dec. 23. Mitchell has come off the bench with eight points in the first 12:00 of the second half.
–The Mountaineers have killed themselves from the line so far. WVU is 14-24 while Villanova is 11-12 after Corey Stokes hits two to make it a 64-59 lead with 7:55 to play.
–Butler’s first second half point came from the foul line with 2:54 remaining. Free throw update: WVU 15-27, Villanova 13-14. Villanova also has wide lead in rebounding as well.
–No doubt in my mind that Villanova and Syracuse are the two best teams in this league. Not sure who is better. I guess we will find out Feb. 27 when they meet at the Carrier Dome.
–Final free throw totals: WVU 18-32, Villanova 19-22.
–On to PItt. WVU will try and sweep that regular season series on the road Friday.