Feb. 7, 1998
Villanova Battles No. 8 Kentucky
Wildcats Prepare for Late-Season Non-Conference Game
(9-11 Overall, 6-6 Big East)
No. 8 KENTUCKY WILDCATS
(20-3 Overall, 9-1 SEC)
Feb. 8, 1998 ~ Philadelphia, Pa.
CoreStates Center (21,000)
1 p.m. (ET) ~ CBS-TV
Last Time Out
Villanova: Villanova fell to Connecticut, 80-65, on Monday night in Hartford, Conn., at the Civic Center. Richard Hamilton led all scorers with 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field, while Khalid El-Amin added 17 points and Jake Voskuhl had 11 rebounds. Howard Brown led Villanova with 17 points on eight-of-16 shooting from the floor. Connecticut shot 50.9 percent for the game, while Villanova converted 40.6 and won the rebounding battle, 39-36. After a tight first half, the Huskies went on an 8-2 run to start the second half, and led by as many as 26 in the game.
Kentucky: The Wildcats earned a narrow, 63-61, victory over LSU on Feb. 4 in Baton Rouge. Jeff Sheppard led Kentucky with 12 points, while Scott Padgett and Wayne Turner each added 11. Kentucky shot 38.3 percent from the field, while LSU hit 45.0 percent and stayed even with the Wildcats on the boards. Maurice Carter led LSU with 19 points, while Willie Anderson added 16 points.
Villanova-Kentucky Series Notes
Kentucky leads the overall series, 4-1, with the two teams first meeting on March 21, 1949 and the Wildcats earning a 85-72 win in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova's lone win over Kentucky came in the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen when Rollie Massimino's squad earned an 80-74 victory in the Southeast Regional in Birmingham. The two teams met last year in Rupp Arena, with Kentucky trouncing Villanova, 93-56, on Feb. 9, 1997.
The Coaches Villanova Steve Lappas 112-67 (.626) / 6 yrs. (VU) 168-129 (.566) / 10 yrs. Kentucky Tubby Smith 20-3 (.869) / 1 yr. (UK) 144-65 (.689) / 7 yrs.
Villanova: Villanova returns to Big East Conference action with a match-up with Pittsburgh on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in The Pavilion.
Kentucky: The Wildcats host Tennessee on Feb. 11 at 8 p.m.
Probable Villanova Starters No. Pos. Name PPG RPG #22 F HOWARD BROWN (Jr., 6-5, 200) 12.4 5.2 #50 F T.J. CAOUETTE (So., 6-7, 215) 4.1 1.6 #15 C Malik Allen (So., 6-10, 240) 9.2 6.8 #10 G JERMAINE MEDLEY (Fr., 6-0, 185) 5.6 1.7 #21 G BRIAN LYNCH (So., 6-6, 185) 8.5 2.9 Probable Kentucky Starters No. Pos. Name PPG RPG #3 F ALLEN EDWARDS (Sr., 6-5, 200) 9.5 3.3 #34 F SCOTT PADGETT (Jr., 6-9, 229) 11.2 6.8 #13 C NAZR MOHAMMED (Jr., 6-10, 240) 11.6 7.1 #5 G WAYNE TURNER (Jr., 6-2, 187) 9.7 3.2 #15 G JEFF SHEPPARD (Sr., 6-3, 190) 11.6 3.7 Villanova-Kentucky Comparison (20 game VU totals; 23 game UK totals) VU UK 1377 Points Scored 1803 68.9 Avg. PPG 78.4 519-1188 FG-FGA 671-1413 .437 FG Pct. .475 135-424 3FG-3FGA 139-400 .318 3-Pt. Pct. .348 204-314 Free Throws 322-483 .650 FT Pct. .667 1431 Points Allowed 1524 71.6 Avg. Allowed 66.3 735 Total Rebounds 968 36.8 Avg. RPG 42.1 -3.0 Rebound Margin +9.3 324 b Assists 385 16.2 Avg. APG 16.7 351 Turnovers 354 17.6 Avg. TO Per Game 15.4 131 Steals 199 6.6 Avg. SPG 8.7 Series Facts Record in Overtime Games 0-0 Series First Meeting 3/21/49 Overall Series Record UK 4-1 Current Win Streak UK 1
Already having a sensational season, Howard Brown has been even better over the Wildcats last three games, helping his team to two victories. The junior has averaged 15.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, and 3.7 apg and shot 54.2 percent (19-of-35) from the field during that span of games. Brown matched his career high of 20 points versus Miami on Jan. 31, 1998, 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. Additionally, the swingman has posted a career-high eight field goals in leading Villanova in scoring in the last two contests versus Connecticut and Miami.
Back-to-Back Versus Ranked Teams
No. 7 Kentucky marks the second-straight ranked opponent for Villanova, as the Wildcats played at No. 9 Connecticut on Monday night. The last time Villanova faced consecutive ranked foes was the end of the 1995-96 season when the Wildcats played No. 3 Connecticut in the CoreStates Spectrum (L 59-70) on Feb. 25, 1996, No. 25 Boston College in Conte Forum (W 76-71) on Feb. 27, 1996, and No. 8 Georgetown in USAir Arena (L 68-106) on March 2, 1996.
Lappas Versus Ranked Opponents
Under head coach Steve Lappas, the Wildcats have recorded a mark of 17-18 (.486) against nationally-ranked teams, including a record of 13-11 (.542) over the past four years. This season, the Wildcats are 1-3 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), No. 21 West Virginia on Jan. 18 (L 65-79 ot), and No. 9 Connecticut on Feb. 2 (L 65-80).
Villanova Versus the Southeastern Conference
Villanova has recorded a mark of 15-18 (.455) versus teams from the Southeastern Conference throughout history. The Wildcats have played every squad in the league except Ole Miss, registering the following series records: 1-1 against Alabama; 2-0 against Arkansas; 2-2 against Auburn; 1-1 against Florida; 0-1 against Georgia; 1-4 against Kentucky; 2-2 against LSU; 1-0 against Vanderbilt; 2-7 against South Carolina; 2-0 against Tennessee; and 1-0 against Mississippi State.
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.
Two-Straight on National TV
The Villanova-Kentucky contest will be head coach Steve Lappas' squad's second-straight appearance on a national television network. Villanova's clash with Connecticut aired on ESPN's Big Monday, while the Kentucky game is slated for CBS Sports. The last time the Wildcats played back-to-back regular-season games in front of a national television audience was last season when they defeated Notre Dame on NBC (W 75-70), St. John's on ESPN (W 65-54) and Connecticut on CBS (W 70-59). The dates of those games were Feb. 16, Feb. 19, and Feb. 23.
Wildcats on the Tube
During the Lappas tenure on the Main Line, Villanova has made 57 appearances on five national television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, CBS, ABC, and NBC). The Wildcats have recorded a mark of 32-25 (.561) in those games, including a 9-8 record on CBS. Villanova is 9-1 on ESPN2, 11-16 on ESPN, 1-0 on ABC, and 2-0 on NBC during the six Lappas years.
Wildcats in Philadelphia
Villanova has played 54 games in the city of Philadelphia since the 1975-76 season, posting a record of 28-26. In the CoreStates Center, newly opened last season, the Wildcats are 1-3, while they boast a mark of 27-23 in the CoreStates Spectrum. Under head coach Steve Lappas, Villanova owns a mark of 7-6 in Big East Conference match-ups played in the city of Philadelphia.
Villanova played the first collegiate contest ever at the state-of-the-art Center, falling to Duke 87-79 on Dec. 14, 1996 before a crowd of 19,214. The Wildcats had two more games at the Center last season, losing to Syracuse 62-60 on Jan. 20, 1997, and defeating Notre Dame 75-70 on Feb. 16, 1997. This season, Villanova lost to Georgetown, 67-61, on Jan. 12, 1998.
Wildcats Own Attendance Records
Villanova owns the top five all-time attendance marks for collegiate basketball in the city of Philadelphia, including the record of 19,372 set at the Notre Dame game on Feb. 16, 1997.
All-Time Largest Collegiate Basketball Crowds in Philadelphia History 19,372 Villanova-Notre Dame Center 2/16/97 19,214 Villanova-Duke Center 12/14/96 18,524 Villanova-Connecticut Spectrum 2/25/96 18,524 Villanova-North Carolina Spectrum 1/20/96 18,433 Villanova-Georgetown Spectrum 2/3/96 18,276 Indiana-LSU (NCAA Final Four) Spectrum 3/28/81 North Carolina-Virginia 18,202 Villanova-Georgetown Spectrum 1/13/85 18,060 Villanova-St. Joseph's Spectrum 2/23/83 Penn-Princeton 18,059 Villanova-Georgetown Spectrum 2/1/88
Zeffy for Three
Senior Zeffy Penn has developed into one of the better shooters on the Wildcat squad this season, and especially of late. The sixth man has converted six-of-10 (.600) from the field over the last two games, and four-of-six (.667) from three-point range. Against Connecticut, he scored 10 points, his highest scoring output since the fifth game of the season, and is averaging 9.0 ppg over the last two contests. Additionally, the Harrisburg native ranks first on the team in free throw percentage (.815, 22-for-27) and third behind the post players in field goal percentage (.483, 42-for-87). In three-point shooting, Penn has posted two-straight games with a career-high two three-pointers, while, prior to the Miami game, he had only hit four all season and seven in his career.
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 13.8 ppg and 5.0 rpg over those last four games. In Villanova's victory over 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.
Experimenting with the Lineup
Villanova head coach Steve Lappas has utilized six different starting lineups this season, with nine players starting at least one game this season. Currently, the quintet to take the floor at the jump is: Malik Allen, T.J. Caouette, Howard Brown, Brian Lynch, and Jermaine Medley. That group owns a record of 2-1, and did not start versus Connecticut due to the fact that Allen was suffering from a stomach virus. 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 (F) Caouette, (F) Brown, (C) Bigus, (G) Lynch, (G) Medley 0-1
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 7.0 ppg in an average of 21.0 mpg since becoming a starter, and has hit five three pointers in those games. Additionally, over the last two games, Caouette and Zeffy Penn have shared the power forward spot the entire game, leaving Villanova's twin towers in the game only on separate occasions.
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 were selected to play in the Rookie game at the NBA All-Star game, played Saturday 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. Entering the All-Star break, Williams was averaging 20.4 mpg, 6.4 ppg and 1.5 rpg, while Thomas has played in 42 games and is averaging 10.6 ppg and 3.5 rpg in 21.4 mpg. Jason Lawson, who played at Villanova from 1993-97, is currently on the injured reserve for the Orlando Magic.
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 first in the Big East Conference in three-point defense in overall games, giving up only 27.4 percent of opponent treys, and leads the league in the category in conference games only as well. In league play, the Wildcats are allowing only 28.1 percent of opponent threes. In field goal percentage defense, Villanova ranks sixth in league games (41.9), and eighth in the league in overall games (42.3).
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, Miami, and Connecticut. He should be ready to return to action versus Kentucky. 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.
When Malik Scores ...
When sophomore Malik Allen scores in double figures, Villanova is 5-3 on the year, while, in comparison, the Wildcats are 4-8 when he scores less than 10 points per game. On the year, the Medford, N.J., native is averaging 9.2 ppg and has led the team in scoring on four occasions. In Villanova's nine victories, Allen is averaging 11.2 ppg, while he's averaging 7.5 ppg in the Wildcats' 11 defeats.
Comparing the Stats
In comparing the Wildcats' shooting statistics from the field, three-point range, and the foul line, there are drastic differences in games won and lost. In nine victories, the Wildcats have shot lights out, converting over 50 percent from the field, nearly 40 percent from behind the arc and almost 74 percent from the foul line. In fact, in all nine wins the Wildcats shot better than 40 percent from the field, while they have converted less than 40 percent from the field in all 11 losses. From the charity stripe, Villanova is 9-4 when shooting 40 percent or better, and 0-7 when shooting under the 40-percent plateau. Consider this:
Wins Losses Field Goal Percentage 51.0 (256-502) 38.2 (263-687) Three-Point Percentage 39.1 (72-184) 26.3 (63-240) Free Throw Percentage 73.6 (128-174) 54.3 (76-140)
At Home and on the Road in the Big East
Over the last four years (1994-present), Villanova has recorded a mark of 26-6 (.813) 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 27-25 (.519) on the road in Big East Conference match-ups under Lappas, including a stellar record of 25-18 (.581) over the last four years, and a 3-4 mark this season with wins at Georgetown, Boston College, and Notre Dame.
Big East Season Record Road Home 1997-98 6-6 3-4 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 59-43 27-25 32-18 (25-12 Pavilion / 7-6 Phila.)
Strength of Schedule
With top 25 squads Duke, Kentucky, Connecticut, Syracuse and West Virginia dotting the Wildcat 1997-98 slate, Villanova's strength of schedule is ranked at No. 5 in the Sagarin Ratings (USA Today) and No. 16 in the RPI report.
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.
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.
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.
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.