Some teams collapse without a strong game from their leading scorer. Villanova hasn’t been one of them, giving Scottie Reynolds some help en route to one of the best starts in its history.
The fourth-ranked Wildcats, who had plenty of key contributors in their last win, look to begin Big East play 7-0 for the first time and match their best overall start as they face St. John’s at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
In yet another dominant game, Villanova (17-1) used a 10-man rotation to build a 47-25 halftime lead in a 94-68 victory over Rutgers on Wednesday night. That gave the Wildcats a 6-0 conference record for the first time since 1982-83, when they advanced to the NCAA tournament’s round of eight.
Thanks to No. 12 Georgetown’s win over No. 9 Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Villanova is the only remaining undefeated team in Big East play.
The Wildcats also have equaled their best overall start since 1963-64. The only time they had a better one was in 1950-51, when they won 18 of their first 19.
Reynolds has played a big role in Villanova’s success. The senior guard ranks fifth in the Big East in scoring, averaging 18.7 points—5.9 more than the Wildcats’ second-leading scorer, Corey Fisher.
Reynolds, though, was held to nine points on 2-of-7 shooting Wednesday after averaging 31.5 in his previous two games to earn Big East player of the week honors. Freshman guard Dominic Cheek had a career-high 17 points off the bench to lead the Wildcats, and Corey Stokes added 16.
In the six games this season when Reynolds has failed to score 15, Villanova has won by an average of 21.7 points.
“We have depth,” coach Jay Wright said. “We’ve got depth and we can score. We have to get a little bit better defensively and a little better on the boards, but we can score.”
Fisher, a native of New York, added 15 points Wednesday. He’s averaged 6.3 points, 4.0 turnovers and 22.2 percent shooting in three games versus St. John’s (12-6, 2-4).
The Wildcats have won five straight against the Red Storm but trail the series 58-43. Reynolds was limited to nine points in a 76-57 win over St. John’s on Jan. 18, 2008, the teams’ last meeting.
St. John’s got 18 points and eight rebounds from D.J. Kennedy in that contest. The junior forward led the Red Storm with 19 points in a 75-69 loss to Connecticut on Wednesday night.
Kennedy was held to a total of 17 points in his previous two games, the only two times he has been held under 10 this season. He leads St. John’s with 15.6 points a contest.
Dwight Hardy is the Red Storm’s second-leading scorer, averaging 11.4 points. Hardy, though, has been held under seven in two of his last three home games.
The Red Storm were coming off consecutive home wins over Cincinnati and DePaul heading into their matchup in Connecticut. They’re 9-2 at home this season, holding opponents to 59.9 points per game.