After being plagued by questionable shot selection for most of his career, Scottie Reynolds is turning in a terrific senior season.
Reynolds and No. 4 Villanova look for an eighth straight win Wednesday night when they go on the road to try to hand Rutgers a seventh consecutive loss.
While Reynolds has etched his name in Villanova lore for his shot that beat Pittsburgh last year to send the Wildcats to their second Final Four, he shot 40.0 percent over his first three seasons. Reynolds has emerged as a different player in 2009-10 at 50.5 percent from the field, and has upped that figure to an astounding 64.3 percent in conference play.
A game after scoring a season-high 36 points and making all five of his 3-point tries in a win at Louisville, Reynolds scored 27 as the Wildcats (16-1, 5-0 Big East) defeated then-No. 11 Georgetown 82-77 on Sunday. He made 8 of 15 shots to top 50 percent for a career-high ninth straight game.
“He’s had big scoring games,” said coach Jay Wright of Reynolds. “He made big shots. He’s had some amazing games in his career. But he’s developed an efficiency about his game.”
It’s clear that Reynolds - fourth in the Big East in scoring at 19.3 points per game - no longer resembles the player known for ill-advised shots and shaky decisions earlier in his career.
“You look back at plays that you made as a freshman or sophomore and wonder who that guy is playing,” Reynolds said. “You want to be efficient and be able to play the right way.”
As a sophomore, Reynolds turned in one of those poor efforts in an 80-68 loss in the Wildcats’ last visit to Rutgers (9-8, 0-5) on Jan. 23, 2008. He missed 14 of 19 shots for 16 points.
That was the first of back-to-back wins over ranked teams for the Scarlet Knights, who have since lost 14 straight to Top 25 opponents.
Rutgers remained one of two winless teams in the Big East following a 73-64 loss at South Florida on Saturday. Leading scorer Mike Rosario continued his woes in conference play with 13 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
Rosario is shooting 24.1 percent and averaging 11.0 points in Big East games.
“I thought it was our offense that was out of sync,” said coach Fred Hill, an assistant at Villanova under Wright from 2001-05. “Mike’s been struggling and he wasn’t very efficient tonight. We had a couple opportunities where we dropped some easy passes. You can’t do that.”
Rosario played much better in last season’s 82-72 loss at Villanova on Feb. 19 with a team-high 19 points. Reynolds led the Wildcats with 21 points and Corey Stokes added 17 off the bench.
Stokes is now a starter and has struggled in his last seven games, averaging 6.4 points on 28.0 percent shooting. The junior guard is shooting a career-low 34.7 percent after missing all four shots against Georgetown.
The Wildcats are tied atop the Big East standings with No. 9 Pittsburgh as they begin a favorable stretch with four straight games against unranked foes. The next Top 25 team they face is a rematch with the Hoyas on Feb. 6.