Despite its subpar second-half performance, Villanova escaped with a win in its last game. A repeat effort against Syracuse could produce a much different result.
The No. 17 Wildcats return to the Wachovia Center on Saturday afternoon as they take on the 20th-ranked Orange and their sharp-shooting backcourt.
Villanova (18-4, 6-3 Big East) has won four straight games, including a 94-91 victory at Providence on Wednesday. Scottie Reynolds paced the Wildcats with 31 points despite missing 11 of 18 shots from the field. The junior guard is shooting just 31.0 percent during the winning streak - Villanova’s longest in conference play since an 11-game run from Jan. 11-Feb. 23, 2006.
Reynolds is averaging 19.0 points and 3.8 assists in five career games versus Syracuse.
Villanova held a 15-point halftime lead over the Friars and looked well on its way to a third consecutive double-digit victory, but was forced to sweat out a close finish after allowing 57 second-half points - only slightly fewer than the 62.7 the Wildcats yield in an average game.
The 91 total points allowed were the most in a game for Villanova since a 101-93 victory over Temple on Dec. 9, 2007.
“We did a great job of getting the lead,” said coach Jay Wright, who holds a 7-4 record against Syracuse. “Once we got the lead there were a lot of crazy things.”
Junior guard Reggie Redding posted his second double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He’s averaging 11.0 points and 6.4 rebounds since Wright inserted him in the starting lineup three weeks into January.
Senior Dwayne Anderson also had a double-double with 19 points and 10 boards.
Villanova’s offense may need to be at the top of its game again when it faces Syracuse (18-5, 6-4), which is the fourth-best shooting team in the nation at 49.7 percent from the field.
The Orange, though, have dropped three straight road games in Big East play. They had also dropped three straight overall before Wednesday night, when they beat West Virginia 74-61 at the Carrier Dome.
Senior Eric Devendorf and backcourt mate Jonny Flynn scored 22 points apiece and combined to shoot 16 of 31 from the floor.
“Things were open for Jonny and me.With Arinze (Onuaku) in the game, it really opens things for us,” said Devendorf, who has had 20 points or more in three straight games. “We feel we can beat anybody 1-on-1.”
That certainly seems to be true of Flynn. The sophomore is coming off the best back-to-back scoring games of his career, as he had 35 points in a 100-94 loss to Providence on Jan. 28. Flynn averaged 21.0 points in three games against the Wildcats as a freshman.
Syracuse has won five of nine in this series at the Wachovia Center, but has dropped three of its last four meetings with Villanova overall.