No. 17 Villanova routs Houston Baptist 93-57

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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP)—Only Scottie Reynolds’ scoring average was down, not his attitude.

When the Villanova point guard’s shots weren’t falling, Reynolds kept upbeat by staying strong on defense, grabbing a few more rebounds and emerging as a true team leader.

It sure does feel good, though, to make some big baskets.

Reynolds scored a season-high 23 points and had six assists and No. 17 Villanova stayed unbeaten with a 93-57 victory over Houston Baptist on Thursday night.

“His teammates got him shots and that was good for us and good for him to experience it,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said.

The Wildcats (8-0) continued their season full of romps and this one was over not long after the opening tip. They have yet to play a truly competitive game and won by 20-plus points for the fourth time this season. No game has been won by less than 13 points.

Villanova said the schedule was short a game and severely overmatched Houston Baptist (0-7) was available to fill the gap.

“A lot of people say we haven’t really had a test, we haven’t really played anybody,” Reynolds said. “I think every time we step on the floor we have the mind-set that we’re playing for each other, we’re playing for our coaches. It doesn’t matter if we have 30,000 or 300 (fans) we’re still going to play Villanova basketball for 40 minutes.”

Reynolds was shooting only 34 percent from the field entering the game. Wright said this week that he knew how unhappy Reynolds was with his cold spell, so this had to satisfy him. He hit two 3s early in the second half and went 8-for-13 from the field to give him a shot of confidence.

He got a docile crowd on their feet when he converted a four-point play for a 69-33 lead.

The outcome was decided early.

Corey Stokes, Shane Clark and Reggie Redding hit three straight 3-pointers for Villanova during a 15-0 run that built the lead to 26-8.

Andrew Puzyk came down and buried three straight 3s in front of the Villanova bench that made it 32-18 and forced an angry Wright to call a 30-second timeout. That 25-second spurt was the lone highlight for Houston Baptist.

Puzyk’s 12 points at halftime gave him more than anyone else on the Wildcats, but their five starters each had eight points and led 48-22.

Stokes scored a career-high 22 points and Dante Cunningham had 13 for Villanova.

Stokes gave Reynolds credit for helping the Wildcats remain undefeated.

“We don’t need Scottie to score,” he said. “He’s not concerned about his points. He’s just being a good team leader this year.”

Baron Sauls made all six 3-pointers and had 22 points for the Huskies, and Puzyk scored 17 points.

After coasting through eight games, the schedule is about to pick up for the Wildcats. They have their first legitimate test of the season against No. 8 Texas at the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 9 at Madison Square Garden.

“We’re 8-0, who knows what that means? Thirty teams could be better,” Wright said. “We could talk about it all we want. We’re going to know where we are.”

That game will mark the first time this season Villanova will leave the Philadelphia area.

While The Pavilion is usually loud and packed to the top of the bleachers, there were plenty of open seats. The Palestra was a few thousand short of capacity for Villanova’s win over Penn on Tuesday, a sure sign that Wildcats fans would rather come out and root on the home team only when they’re playing a competitive team.

Houston Baptist didn’t fit that description.

The Huskies are making the transition from NAIA Division I to NCAA Division I and are playing a full D-I schedule this season. They went 13-15 last season and had a 32-game home winning streak end this year.

The Huskies, who joined the Great West Conference in July, also competed at the NCAA Division I level from 1973-89. They opened the season with a 31-point loss at then-No. 16 Marquette.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Houston Baptist
Baron Sauls Baron Sauls
7-8,  22 Pts
3 Rebs, 3 Assists
Scottie Reynolds Scottie Reynolds
8-13,  23 Pts
1 Rebs, 6 Assists

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Thursday, Dec 4