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Brown photo
Howard Brown

Feb. 1, 1998

Wildcats Take on No. 9 Connecticut

(9-10 Overall, 6-5 Big East)
(19-3 Overall, 9-2 Big East)

Feb. 2, 1998 ~ Hartford, Conn.
Hartford Civic Center (16,294)
7:30 p.m. (ET) ~ ESPN-TV

Last Time Out
Villanova: Villanova won its second-straight game on Saturday with a 78-75 decision over Miami in The Pavilion. Howard Brown led all scorers with a career-high 20 points, while Brian Lynch added 14 points and T.J. Caouette 10 for the Wildcats. Tim James paced the visitors with 19 points and 11 boards, while Mario Bland had 18 points. Villanova shot 46.9 percent from the field and 40.7 percent from three-point range, while Miami converted 43.5 percent from the floor and only 31.3 percent from behind the arc. Miami outrebounded Villanova, 43-34.

Connecticut: The Huskies improved to 19-3 on the year with a 73-56 conference victory over Rutgers Saturday night in Gampel Pavilion. Richard Hamilton led all scorers with 17 points, while Khalid El-Amin added 12 points and Jake Voskuhl contributed 13 boards. Earl Johnson led Rutgers with 17 points. Connecticut shot 50.0 percent from the floor, while Rutgers could convert only 38.6 percent. The Huskies also dominated the glass, outrebounding the Scarlet Knights by a 44-25 margin.

Villanova-Connecticut Series Notes
Villanova leads the overall series, 26-12, including a 21-12 edge in Big East Conference regular-season games. The Huskies have won two of the past three meetings, but Villanova has won three of the last five and last year's only clash between the two squads, 65-58 in the CoreStates Spectrum on Feb. 23, 1997. In Hartford, Villanova owns a 6-3 record versus the Huskies, with the Wildcats last win there coming on Dec. 12, 1989, by a score of 64-57. The last time the two teams played in the Civic Center was Jan. 24, 1994, with the Huskies taking that one, 91-67. Since then, Villanova and Connecticut have split games played in Gampel Pavilion in 1995 and 1996. Steve Lappas is 4-6 versus Connecticut during his career.

The Coaches
        Steve Lappas 
            112-66 (.629) / 6 yrs. (VU)
            168-128 (.565) / 10 yrs.
        Jim Calhoun
            259-117 (.689) / 12 yrs. (UC)
            509-254 (.667) / 26 yrs.

Villanova-Connecticut Comparison
(19 game VU totals; 22 game UC totals)
VU                              UC
1312        Points Scored       1684    
69.1        Avg. PPG            76.5        
493-1124    FG-FGA              599-1302
.439        FG Pct.             .460    
127-400     3FG-3FGA            140-377
.318        3-Pt. Pct.          .371
199-302     Free Throws         346-477
.659        FT Pct.             .725
1351        Points Allowed      1343
71.1        Avg. Allowed        61.0
696         Total Rebounds      878
36.6        Avg. RPG            39.9
-3.4        Rebound Margin      +6.0
308         Assists             317
16.2        Avg. APG            14.4
327         Turnovers           325
17.2        Avg. TO Per Game    14.8
127         Steals              195
6.7         Avg. SPG            8.9

Series Facts
Record in Overtime Games        4-0
Series First Meeting            1/31/41
Overall Series Record           VU 26-14
Big East Regular-Season Series  VU 21-12
Big East Tournament Series      VU 3-0
Current Win Streak              VU 1

Probable Villanova Starters
No. Pos.    Name                        PPG     RPG
#22 F   HOWARD BROWN (Jr., 6-5, 200)    12.2    5.2
#50 F   T.J. CAOUETTE (So., 6-7, 215)   4.0     1.4
#15 C   Malik Allen (So., 6-10, 240)    9.3     7.0
#10 G   JERMAINE MEDLEY (Fr., 6-0, 185) 5.8     1.4
#21 G   BRIAN LYNCH (So., 6-6, 185)     8.2     2.9

Probable Connecticut Starters
No. Pos.    Name                         PPG    RPG
#15 F   KEVIN FREEMAN (So., 6-6, 224)    11.2   7.9
#32 F   RICHARD HAMILTON (So., 6-6, 180) 21.4   3.9
#43 C   JAKE VOSKUHL (So., 6-11, 235)    6.3    7.0
#21 G   RICKY MOORE (Jr., 6-2, 185)      8.3    3.3
#42 G   KHALID EL-AMIN (Fr., 5-20, 195)  14.3   2.5
Lynch photo
Brian Lynch

Next Up
Villanova: Villanova goes out of conference on Sunday, Feb. 8, 1998, versus Kentucky at the CoreStates Center. The CBS contest will tipoff at 1 p.m. ET.

Connecticut: The Huskies host Stanford on Feb. 7, 1998, at noon on CBS.

Breaking out of the Doldrums
After losing five-straight games, it seemed as though the Wildcats could do very little right in the month of January. However, over the last two games, they have broken out of the doldrums to come up with two big victories on the road versus Notre Dame and in The Pavilion versus Miami. The Wildcats averaged 79.5 points per game and shot 51.2 percent (62-for-121) from the floor over the two-game winning streak, a far cry from the 60.4 points per game and 38.4 percent shooting (118-for-307) numbers put up during the five-game losing skid earlier in the month. Additionally, the Wildcats hit 46.9 percent from three-point range versus Notre Dame and Miami (23-of-49), another drastic improvement (24.7 percent (28-of-113) from three during losing streak).

Bombs Away
In Miami, Villanova faced the nation's No. 1-ranked team in field goal percentage defense, as the Hurricanes were allowing opponents to convert only 36.1 percent of their shots. Villanova's 46.9 percent (30-for-64) effort marked the second-best shooting performance versus Miami all season, as Syracuse's 47.2 effort rates as the best. The Wildcats also were extremely productive from three-point range, hitting 40.7 percent of their attempts, far above the Hurricanes' stingy 26.6 percent for opponents on the season. Villanova's 11 treys is the most by a Miami foe all season, and its 40.7 percent shooting is the third-best versus the Hurricanes (St. John's 42.9; West Virginia 41.2) in 1997-98.

Taking Charge
Howard Brown matched his career high of 20 points versus Miami on Saturday, hitting eight-of-13 (.615) shots from the field and grabbing a team-high seven rebounds. Brown's line was impressive versus Miami, as he also had five assists, no turnovers, two blocked shots and two steals in 38 minutes. He scored five points in the final four minutes of the game to help the Wildcats seal the win, and is averaging 15.0 ppg and 5.5 rpg over the last two victories. During the Wildcats' two-game winning streak, Brown is shooting 11-of-19 (.579) from the field.

Scoring Machine
Since earning the starting nod versus St. John's on Jan. 25, Brian Lynch has become one of the focal points of the Wildcat offensive attack. The Belmar, N.J., native, is averaging 14.3 ppg and 5.7 rpg over those last three games. In addition, he's found his shooting touch in the Wildcat wins over the last two games, converting 13-of-24 (.541) from the field versus Notre Dame and Miami, including four-for-seven from three. He's averaging 15.0 ppg during that span. Against Notre Dame, Lynch shattered his scoring personal best with a game-high 16 points on seven-for-12 shooting from the field, including a two-for-four performance from three-point range.

He Does it All
In addition to his offensive abilities, Brian Lynch has also shown he possesses the complete game. Versus Miami he scored 14 points, but also registered a career-high six rebounds to go with three assists, two blocked shots and one steal in 34 minutes of play. At a critical stage of the game, Miami reeled off six-straight points and tied the contest at 65 with five minutes remaining. Lynch drove the lane and hit a tough layup at the 4:10 mark, then blocked a shot at the other end of the floor by Mike Byars-Dawson. He grabbed the loose ball, spotted a streaking Howard Brown down the floor and threw a cross-court pass that led to a dunk and a four-point lead.

Experimenting with the Lineup
Villanova head coach Steve Lappas has utilized five different starting lineups this season. Nine players have started at least one game this season, and only Malik Allen has started every game. Currently, the quintet to take the floor at the jump is: Allen, T.J. Caouette, Howard Brown, Brian Lynch, and Jermaine Medley. That group owns a record of 2-1 and has won two-straight games. 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 1-4
(F) Caouette, (F) Brown, (C) Allen, (G) Lynch (G) Medley    2-1

Caouette Contributes
The addition of T.J. Caouette to the starting lineup has proven to be an important adjustment for head coach Steve Lappas. By swapping Caouette for seven-footer Rafal Bigus, Lappas has forced opponents to spread the floor and cover Caouette, an excellent long range shooter, on the wing. That has relieved some pressure off the big men and given both Bigus and Malik Allen more room to operate. Caouette is averaging 7.3 ppg in an average of 22.3 mpg since becoming a starter. He's hit four three pointers in those games.

One of Villanova's consistencies this season has been the Wildcats' strong effort on the defensive end of the floor, especially from three-point range. Villanova is currently ranked second in the Big East Conference (as of 1/31/98) in three-point defense in overall games, giving up only 27.0 percent of opponent treys, and leads the league in the category in conference games only. In league play, the Wildcats are allowing only 27.4 percent of opponent threes. In field goal percentage defense, Villanova ranks fifth in league games (41.2), and eighth in the league in overall games (41.9).

Zeffy for Three
Senior Zeffy Penn hit a career-high two three-pointers versus Miami, finishing the game with eight points. Prior to the game, the forward had only hit four all season and seven in his career. He currently boasts a percentage of 42.9, hitting six-of-14 this season.

Williams, Thomas in the NBA Rookie Game
Former Villanova Wildcats Alvin Williams (1993-97) and Tim Thomas (1997), both in their rookie seasons in the National Basketball Association, have made an impressive start on the next level. Both individuals have been selected to play in the Rookie game at the NBA All-Star game next weekend in New York City. It marks the second-straight season that Villanova has been represented in the Rookie game, as Kerry Kittles was selected last season. Williams is averaging 19.7 mpg, 6.4 ppg and 2.0 rpg, while Thomas has played in 39 games and is averaging 10.7 ppg and 3.4 rpg in 20.8 mpg. Jason Lawson, who played at Villanova from 1993-97, is currently on the injured reserve for the Orlando Magic.

O'Connor Sidelined
Marvin O'Connor sprained his ankle on Friday after the Miami game on Jan. 22 and missed the following contests with St. John's, Notre Dame, and Miami. He is questionable for the UConn game, but will be reevaluated on the day of the match-up. O'Connor had started the five games prior to St. John's and is averaging 5.8 ppg and 2.1 rpg in his rookie season.

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 76-12 (.864) 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 5-0 in 1997-98 when they score 75 or better.

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)

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.

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, 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.

At Home and on the Road in the Big East
Over the last four years (1994-present), Villanova has recorded a mark of 26-5 (.838) at home in Big East Conference regular-season contests. In Big East games in The Pavilion during that time, the Wildcats are 20-3 (.869), while they are 6-3 (.667) in Philadelphia. During the Steve Lappas era at Villanova, the Wildcats are 32-18 (.640) at home in league play, including a stellar 25-12 (.676) in The Pavilion.

The Villanova Wildcats have recorded a mark of 27-24 (.529) on the road in Big East Conference match-ups under Lappas, including a stellar record of 25-17 (.595) over the last four years, and a 3-3 mark this season with wins at Georgetown, Boston College, and Notre Dame.

Big East 
Season  Record  Road    Home
1997-98 6-5     3-3     3-2 (3-1 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  59-42   27-24   32-18 (25-12 Pavilion / 7-6 Phila.)

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.

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.

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.