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OConner Photo
Marvin O'Conner

Jan. 20, 1998

Wildcats Head to Miami

Villanova Leads the Series 9-2

(7-8 Overall, 4-3 Big East)
(12-4 Overall, 5-3 Big East)

TIME: Jan. 22, 1998
SITE: Miami, Fla. , Miami Arena (15,862)
TIME: 7:30 p.m. (ET)

Last Time Out
Villanova: The Wildcats fell to No. 21-ranked West Virginia, 79-65, in overtime on Jan. 18, 1998. Damian Owens led all scorers with 21 points, while Adrian Pledger had 14 points and Brian Lewin contributed 12 points and 12 rebounds. Howard Brown led the Wildcats with 15 points, while Rafal Bigus and Brian Lynch each had 12 points. Villanova shot 45.6 percent from the field, while West Virginia converted only 37.3 of its shots, but dominated the boards, 57-39. West Virginia led at halftime, 34-29, but Villanova battled back in the second half to take a two-point lead at the 8:24 mark. West Virginia shot back out to a five-point lead with six minutes remaining, but a Brown three-pointer and two Bigus foul shots tied it back up. Villanova couldn't convert in the final 10 seconds, and West Virginia dominated the extra period, outscoring the Wildcats 19-5.

Miami: Miami couldn't get past Big East leader Syracuse, losing 85-67 in The Carrier Dome on Jan. 18, 1998. Todd Burgan led all scorers with 26 points, while Marius Janulis added 18, and Jason Hart had 11 points, nine assists and no turnovers. Tim James led Miami with 22 points, and Kevin Norris contributed 12. Miami shot 47.2 percent from the floor, while Syracuse converted 45.8 percent and won the rebounding battle 37-33.

Villanova-Miami Series Notes
Villanova and Miami had never met prior to the Hurricanes' joining the Big East Conference, and since then, the two squads have met 11 times. The Wildcats have won nine of those contests, but the Hurricanes prevailed last year, 61-59, to capture their first-ever win in The Pavilion. Miami's other victory over Villanova came on March 6, 1993, in Miami Arena by a score of 77-76. Steve Lappas is 7-2 versus Miami, with all nine meetings coming during his tenure on the Main Line.

The Coaches
Villanova   Steve Lappas 
            110-64 (.632) / 6 yrs. (VU)
            166-126 (.568) / 10 yrs.

Miami       Leonard Hamilton
            92-123 (.428) / 8 yrs. (UM)
            148-186 (.443) / 11 yrs.
Celestand Photo
John Celestand

Next Up Villanova: Villanova plays the second of three-straight road games on Sunday versus St. John's at Madison Square Garden. Tipoff is slated for noon.

Miami: The Hurricanes travel to Boston College on Jan. 28, 1998, for a 7:30 p.m. match-up.

Probable Villanova Starters
No. Pos.    Name                        PPG     RPG
#15 F   Malik Allen (So., 6-10, 240)    10.0    7.6
#22 F   HOWARD BROWN (Jr., 6-5, 200)    12.2    5.5
#31 C   Rafal Bigus (Jr., 7-1, 270)     9.5     5.2
#11 G   MARVIN O'CONNOR (Fr., 6-4, 190) 5.7     1.9
#13 G   John Celestand (Jr., 6-3, 175)  12.7    4.5

Probable Miami Starters
No. Pos.    Name                        PPG     RPG
#32 F   LUCAS BARNES (So., 6-5, 195)    9.1     4.1
#40 F   TIM JAMES (Jr., 6-7, 205)       18.1    9.6
#51 C   MARIO BLAND (So., 6-6, 265)     9.9     5.6
#10 G   KEVIN NORRIS (Sr., 5-9, 190)    7.1     2.6
#31 G   JOHNNY HEMSLEY (So., 6-5, 200)  14.3    4.1

Villanova-Miami Comparison
(15 game VU totals; 16 game UM totals)
VU                          UM
1031    Points Scored       1168    
68.7    Avg. PPG            73.0        
384-870 FG-FGA              427-953
.441    FG Pct.             .448    
93-302  3FG-3FGA            59-214
.308    3-Pt. Pct.          .276
170-256 Free Throws         255-371
.664    FT Pct.             .687
1055    Points Allowed      1068
70.3    Avg. Allowed        66.8
558     Total Rebounds      637
37.2    Avg. RPG            39.8
-1.8    Rebound Margin      -1.8
239     Assists             209
15.9    Avg. APG            13.1
264     Turnovers           289
17.6    Avg. TO Per Game    18.1
100     Steals              152
6.7     Avg. SPG            9.5
Series Facts
Record in Overtime Games        0-0
Series First Meeting            2/18/92
Overall Series Record           VU 9-2
Big East Regular-Season Series  VU 9-2
Big East Tournament Series      0-0
Current Win Streak              UM, 1

Floor General
Junior John Celestand, currently the Wildcats' leading scorer with an average of 12.7 ppg, recorded a career-high 13 assists versus West Virginia on Sunday. That performance is the best by a Wildcat since March 28, 1994 when Alvin Williams also compiled 13 versus Siena in the NIT. Despite a poor shooting performance, Celestand had a very good floor game, breaking West Virginia's tough press. In fact, over the last two games, the Piscataway, N.J., native has recorded 18 assists and only 6 turnovers (3:1 ratio).

Brown Comes up Big
Junior Howard Brown has come up big again over the last two games, leading the Wildcats in scoring in both contests with 19 points versus Georgetown and 15 points against West Virginia. The Pottstown, Pa., native, is shooting 59.1 percent (13-of-22) from the floor in the pair of games and is averaging 17.0 ppg. Additionally, he led the Wildcats in rebounding versus the Mountaineers with eight boards.

Making an Impact
Sophomore Brian Lynch has made great strides of late, making major contributions in the last three games. After suffering two injuries that kept him limited during six of the first seven games, he has rebounded to become a valuable bench performer. He's averaged 10.3 ppg over the last four games, putting in one of the finest efforts of his career versus Boston College last Tuesday. The Belmar, N.J., native scored a career-high 13 points to help the Wildcats to an overtime victory over the Eagles on a personal-best eight-of-eight from the foul line. Additionally, he had seven points in the extra period to fuel Villanova to the 68-65 win. He followed that with a nine-point effort versus Seton Hall on four-for-eight shooting, and a seven-point performance against Georgetown. Against West Virginia, Lynch played a career-high 33 minutes and scored 12 points on five-of-nine shooting. He also had four rebounds, two steals and two blocks in the game.

Bigus Career-High
Center Rafal Bigus recorded a career-high six blocked shots versus West Virginia, breaking his previous best of four set earlier in the year versus Minnesota. The native of Poland also registered a career-high in another category: minutes played. Bigus was on the court for 41 minutes in the overtime contest versus West Virginia, scoring 12 points in addition to his defensive effort. Previously, the most the seven-footer had played was 26 minutes.

Wildcats in OT
Villanova has played two overtime contests this season, defeating Boston College 68-65 in The Pavilion on Jan. 6, and falling to West Virginia, 79-65 on Jan. 18, also in The Pavilion. Under head coach Steve Lappas, Villanova is 6-6 in overtime contests during his tenure, including a 6-3 record from the 1993-94 season on. The Wildcats did not play an overtime game all last season, and won their only extra-session game during the 1995-96 season, winning 72-69 over Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.

Three-Straight Losses
Losing has not been the norm on the Main Line in the last four years, as Villanova's current three-game skid is its first since the 1993-94 season. In fact, its almost been four years to the day, as the Wildcats lost four-straight from Jan. 15, 1994 to January 30, 1994, to Syracuse (88-85), Pittsburgh (81-78), Connecticut (91-67) and Syracuse (87-68).

Scoring Slump
The Wildcats have lost three-straight games and four of their last five contests after stringing together four-straight wins in December. The major difference in the two streaks is scoring, as Villanova averaged 85.0 ppg in wins over Temple, Florida International, Hofstra and Boston College. Conversely, the Wildcats have only managed an average of 62.6 ppg during their last five games. Villanova lost to La Salle, defeated Boston College and fell to Seton Hall, Georgetown, and West Virginia during that five-game stretch.

Malik the Key
Sophomore power forward Malik Allen has been plagued by foul trouble of late, fouling out of two games and getting at least four personals in four of the last five games. The Medford, N.J., native, enjoying a much-improved second season on the Main Line, has been taken out of rhythm during the last five games, probably due to the foul trouble. Allen, currently posting 10.0 ppg and 7.7 rpg on the season, has averaged only 7.2 ppg during the Wildcats' recent five-game slump. In contrast, when the Wildcats are playing well and winning, Allen appears to be the catalyst. During Villanova's recent four-game winning streak in December, the 6-foot-10 soph averaged 14.0 ppg.

Three-Point Shooting Woes
Villanova has been struggling from behind the three-point arc over the last five games (1-4 record), converting only 29-of-101 (.287) threes during that time. In the four games prior to the Wildcats' recent slump (4-0 record), they hit 31-of-77 (.403) from three-point range. On the year, the Wildcats have converted 85-of-276 (.308).

Stepping up the D
While Villanova has struggled on the offensive end periodically throughout the season, the Wildcats have stepped up their effort on the defensive end. Through the first six games of the season (2-4 record), Villanova was giving up 44.4 percent (164-for-369) on opponent field goal shooting. Since the New Orleans game, Villanova has recorded a mark of 5-4 and has limited opponents to 39.0 percent shooting from the field (220-for-564).

At Home and on the Road in the Big East
Over the last four years (1994-present), Villanova has recorded a mark of 25-5 (.833) at home in Big East Conference regular-season contests. In Big East games in The Pavilion during that time, the Wildcats are 19-3 (.864), while they are 6-3 (.667) in Philadelphia. During the Steve Lappas era at Villanova, the Wildcats are 31-18 (.633) at home in league play, including a stellar 24-12 (.667) in The Pavilion.

The Villanova Wildcats have recorded a mark of 26-22 (.542) on the road in Big East Conference match-ups under Lappas, including a stellar record of 24-15 (.615) over the last four years, and a 2-1 mark this season with wins at Georgetown and Boston College.

Big East 
Season  Record  Road    Home
1997-98 4-3     2-1     2-2 (2-1 Pavilion / 0-1 Phila.)
1996-97 12-6    5-4     7-2 (4-1 Pavilion / 3-1 Phila.)
1995-96 14-4    6-3     8-1 (7-0 Pavilion / 1-1 Phila.)
1994-95 14-4    6-3     8-1 (6-1 Pavilion / 2-0 Phila.)
1993-94 10-8    5-4     5-4 (4-3 Pavilion / 1-1 Phila.)
1992-93 3-15    2-7     1-8 (1-6 Pavilion / 0-2 Phila.)
Totals  57-40   26-22   31-18 (24-12 Pavilion / 7-6 Phila.)

Home, Sweet, Home
The Wildcats have recorded 38-straight sellouts in their on-campus arena, The Pavilion, and boast a record of 96-36 (.727) in the building since it opened in 1986. From the 1994-95 season on, Villanova is 34-4 (.895) in The Pavilion, including a 19-3 (.864) mark in Big East Conference match-ups.

The Best Since ...
When Villanova and Boston College played at Conte Forum on Dec. 30, 1997, the Wildcats shot 61.8 percent from the field, at the time its third-straight game of shooting 50 percent or better from the field. The Wildcats converted 34-of-55 from the field, their best shooting effort since the Wildcats set a school record at the famous 1985 NCAA title game versus Georgetown. On April 1, 1985, Villanova shot 22-of-28 (.786) to defeat the Hoyas and sit atop college basketball's throne.

Wildcats on the Tube
During the Lappas tenure on the Main Line, Villanova has made 56 appearances on five national television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, CBS, ABC, and NBC). The Wildcats have recorded a mark of 32-24 (.571) in those games, including an 11-15 record on ESPN. Villanova is 9-1 on ESPN2, 9-8 on CBS, 1-0 on ABC, and 2-0 on NBC during the six Lappas years.

75 is the Magic Number
Over the past six seasons under head coach Steve Lappas, the Wildcats are 74-12 (.860) in games where they have scored 75 points or better. In 1996-97, the Wildcats were 15-3 when hitting a score of 75. Last year, Villanova was 16-1 when producing 75+ points. During the 1994-95 season, they tallied a 19-1 record in such games, while they were 13-4 in 1993-94 and 8-3 in 1992-93. Villanova is 3-0 in 1997-98 when they score 75 or better.

Holley to Redshirt
Freshman Johnny Holley, a 6-foot-6 forward from McKinney, Texas, will redshirt the 1997-98 season due to an inflammatory condition in his right knee. Holley played in only one game this season, seeing limited action against Bradley.

Experimenting with the Lineup
Villanova head coach Steve Lappas has utilized four different starting lineups this season. The constants have been Malik Allen, Rafal Bigus, and John Celestand, while five other players have started at least one game this season. Following are each of Villanova's lineups this season, and the result:

Lineup   Record
(F) Allen, (F) Penn, (C) Bigus, (G) Lynch, (G) Celestand    0-1
(F) Allen, (F) Penn, (C) Bigus, (G) Celestand, (G) Medley   0-1
(F) Allen, (F) Brown, (C) Bigus, (G) Celestand, (G) Medley  6-3
(F) Allen, (F) Brown, (C) Bigus, (G) Celestand (G) O'Connor 1-3

Lappas Versus Ranked Opponents
Under head coach Steve Lappas, the Wildcats have recorded a mark of 17-17 (.500) against nationally-ranked teams, including a record of 13-10 (.565) over the past four years. This season, the Wildcats are 1-2 against nationally-ranked squads, defeating No. 16 Temple (68-57) on Dec. 16, 1997, and falling to No. 1 Duke on Dec. 10 (L 94-66) and No. 21 West Virginia on Jan. 18 (L 65-79)

Starting from Scratch
The Wildcats were virtually starting from scratch prior to the start of the season, with only one starter returning to the 1997-98 lineup, as Chuck Kornegay, Jason Lawson, Tim Thomas, and Alvin Williams have all departed. Combined, the quartet amassed 4,244 career points and 2,142 career rebounds during their varied tenures at Villanova. In addition, the Wildcat seniors from a year ago (Kornegay, Lawson, Williams) compiled 95 victories during their four-year stint, the most wins by a class in school history. The class of '97 surpassed the class of '85, which posted a record of 92-38 and won the NCAA title.

Lappas and Non-Conference Opponents
Currently in his sixth season at the helm of the Wildcat program, head coach Steve Lappas has posted a mark of 47-19 (.712) versus non-conference opponents during his tenure. In his first year on the Main Line, the Wildcats were 5-3; in 1993-94 Villanova recorded a mark of 10-3 in non-Big East games. In 1994-95, the Wildcats registered a mark of 8-3, and in 1995-96 they were 11-2 out of conference. Last season, Lappas posted a mark of 10-3 in non-league contests, while Villanova is 3-5 in 1997-98.

Stepping Up
Junior Howard Brown has established himself as the most consistent player for the Wildcats this season, stepping up his play in his third year on the Main Line. Brown has posted double figures in 11 games this season and is averaging 12.2 ppg, the second-highest number on the team. He's shot better than 50 percent from the field eight times, and 40 percent or better from behind the arc eight times. He's led the team in scoring five times, assists four times and blocks four times, and rates as the best shooting wing on the Wildcat squad with a percentage of .493 (69-for-140). Seven of his top 10 career shooting performances have come this season, and he boasts the most made three-pointers of any Wildcat with 26. Brown's excellent shooting this season is markedly improved from his previous two seasons (35.8 in 1996, 39.2 in 1997).

Brown's Best Career Shooting Performances*
1.  77.8    7-for-9     20 points   Fla. Int'l (12/27/97)
2.  70.0    7-for-10    19 points   Georgetown (1/12/98)
3.  66.7    4-for-6     8 points    Miami (1/27/96)
4.  63.6    7-for-11    16 points   Seton Hall (12/6/97)
5.  62.5    5-for-8     14 points   Bradley (11/29/97)
    62.5    5-for-8     10 points   UNC-Wilm. (12/30/96)
7.  60.0    6-for-10    15 points   BC (12/30/97)
    60.0    6-for-10    18 points   St. Joseph's (12/23/96)
9.  55.6    5-for-9     11 points   Georgetown (12/3/97)
    55.6    5-for-9     13 points   Connecticut (2/23/97)
11. 54.5    6-for-11    19 points   Temple (12/16/97)

*minimum four made field goals
italics indicate 1997-98 season