Sunday, January 2, 2011

Villanova Wins Big East Opener 81-65

Villanova was involved in an up and down battle throughout the first half and even went into halftime trailing Rutgers 37-33.  Some adjustments and a Jay Wright speech changed the game, as Villanova outscored the Scarlet Knights 48-28 in the second half.  The Corey Brothers stole the show with Stokes scoring 23 and Fisher dropping in 19 of his own.  Villanova finally showed its shooting stroke they have been looking for so far this season.  They were 8 of 15 from long range, as Corey Stokes was 4-7.  Dominic Cheek provided some spark off the bench with 9 points and 8 rebounds.

Maalik Wayns continued a successful stretch of games with intelligent passing and attacking the hoop.  He was very close to his first career triple-double, but finished with 9 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds.  Despite those great numbers, the most important stat was his 2 turnovers.  A 4.5 assist to turnover ratio is incredible and as long as Maalik realizes that his value to the team is to be a facilitator for others before he is a primary scoring threat, Villanova has the ability to compete with any team.

Rutgers held their own throughout the game, but their inability to pressure the ball and force tough shots allowed Villanova to pull away.  The Scarlet Knights had a balanced scoring attack with four players in double figures.  Jonathan Mitchell had 17 points, but Rutgers finished with a 41% field goal percentage.  Rutgers lack of height and presence down low ultimately lost the game.  They were outrebounded 36-17 and Villanova had more offensive rebounds than Rutgers had defensive rebounds.  No team can win games giving an opponent second and third chances, which will be something to watch for the rest of the Big East season.

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