Villanova and DePaul have gone in opposite directions since the Blue Demons’ road win over the Wildcats three seasons ago.
The No. 6 Wildcats put their 33-game winning streak at the Pavilion on the line when they take on the struggling Blue Demons in a Big East matchup Wednesday night.
Villanova (12-1, 1-0) plays many of its higher-profile conference games at the Wachovia Center and has not lost on campus since an 84-76 defeat to DePaul (7-7, 0-2) on Jan. 6, 2007.
That defeat, though, came against a respectable Blue Demons team that finished 20-14 and 9-7 in the conference - the same Big East mark that Villanova posted in 2006-07.
Since that season, Villanova is 64-22 and 23-14 in conference play, reaching the Final Four last year. DePaul has gone 27-50 and 6-32 in the Big East in that same span.
Although Villanova will be heavily favored Wednesday, the Wildcats had to rally from an eight-point halftime deficit to win 74-72 on the road in the last matchup Feb. 25.
“Villanova is a high-octane team with incredible confidence after the Final Four last year,” coach Jerry Wainwright told DePaul’s official Web site. “They are riding the crest of a wave. It’s going to be a high-paced game, and our guys are going to have to make some plays.”
Scottie Reynolds scored eight of his 18 points over the final 2:05 in the last meeting with the Blue Demons, and has a career average of 20.8 points in five games against them. Villanova fans have gotten used to such performances from Reynolds, whose buzzer-beater in a regional final against Pittsburgh put the Wildcats in the 2009 Final Four.
Reynolds delivered again Saturday in a 74-72 win at Marquette, scoring with 18.1 seconds left to give the Wildcats the lead for good in their third straight victory.
“I was just looking at my teammates and saying, ‘We need this win,’” Reynolds said. “We needed to establish ourselves, create our own identity.”
Reynolds scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the second half. He shot 62.5 percent in his last five games.
Freshman Maalik Wayns added a season-high 16 points off the bench.
The Blue Demons, 0-3 on the road, are the only Big East team without a winning record. They have lost 18 straight to ranked opponents since an 84-76 home win over then-No. 17 Villanova on Jan. 3, 2008.
Wainwright believes this team is much better than last season’s squad that went 0-18 in the Big East and lost top scorer Dar Tucker. DePaul fell 67-50 to then-No. 13 Georgetown on Sunday.
“I don’t care what anybody else says, we are a markedly improved team over last year,” the coach said. “We play better as a team, we’re not turning the ball over and our defense and rebounding are better.”
Leading scorer Mac Koshwal had 17 points and 13 boards in last year’s loss to the Wildcats. He is averaging 14.7 points this season.