Jan. 24, 2006
FINAL SCORE: Villanova 49, University of South Florida 46
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Sun Dome (Tampa, Fla.)
Villanova was held to 18 points in the first half and trailed by a 21-18 margin at the break. The 18 first-half points represented the fewest in a period since the Wildcats scored 17 in the opening half against Santa Clara on November 25, 2003. In that game, Villanova trailed 23-17 at halftime and eventually rallied for a 53-51 overtime victory.
The Wildcats are now 3-0 this season when they trail at halftime. Villanova also went into the intermission facing a deficit against Rutgers on January 11 (trailed by five) and against Seton Hall on January 17 (trailed by six). In tonight's game, Villanova trailed 21-18 at the intermission before outscoring the Bulls 31-25 over the final 20 minutes.
Senior Jason Fraser made his first start of the season in tonight's game, playing alongside junior Will Sheridan in the Wildcats frontcourt. The addition of Fraser to the lineup marked the first time all season that Villanova had changed its lineup from the four-guard lineup that, along with Sheridan, started the first 15 games. The Wildcats entered tonight's game as one of three Big East teams (Georgetown, West Virginia) that had used the same starting lineup in all of their games. In tonight's game, Fraser started in place of senior guard Allan Ray, who missed the game due to an injury. Fraser was in the starting lineup for the first time since January 11, 2005 against Providence.
Tonight's game featured just 95 combined points and was the lowest scoring Villanova game since a 46-41 loss to Georgetown on March 12, 2003 in the first round of the Big East Tournament, a game that featured just 87 combined points.
Villanova's total of 49 points marked the fewest it scored in a victory since Jay Wright became head coach. Previously, the lowest point total in a victory under Wright was in the 53-51 overtime win against Santa Clara on November 25, 2003. That game was tied 47-47 at the end of regulation.
The last time the Wildcats won a game in which they scored fewer than 50 points came during the team's national championship run in 1985. In the Sweet 16 against Maryland on March 22, Villanova defeated the Terrapins 46-43 to advance to the Elite Eight. The Wildcats had since reeled off 392 victories in which the team scored at least 50 points.
The Bulls made a three-pointer with 5:58 left in the game to take their largest lead of the night at 45-38. However, they managed just one point the rest of the game as Villanova closed the game on an 11-1 run. Junior guard Mike Nardi and senior Randy Foye sandwiched three-pointers around a fast-break basket by sophomore Kyle Lowry, and eight unanswered points in a span of just 50 seconds gave Villanova the lead for good with 4:47 remaining at 46-45.
Foye added a jumper with 3:18 to play and a free throw with three seconds left to help ice the win for the Wildcats. In all, he scored 19 of his game-high 24 points after halftime to help Villanova earn a hard-fought victory on the road. Foye is now shooting 83.3 percent (15-of-18) from the free throw line in the final two minutes of games this season.
Foye reached the 20-point plateau for the 11th time this season and 31st time in his career.
Villanova is 7-1 away from home this season, including 3-0 in road conference games.