Dec. 3, 2005
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) - It was nothing new for Randy Foye and his fellow guards to come up big for Villanova. It has been, however, rare to see oft-injured senior forward Jason Fraser make an impact for the Wildcats.
Foye had a career-high 32 points and Fraser had 10 points in 26 minutes on Saturday and the fourth-ranked Wildcats beat No. 5 Oklahoma 85-74 in the season's first matchup of teams ranked in the top five.
Villanova (4-0) had to listen all week to people wondering if the Wildcats' small lineup because of a knee injury to forward Curtis Sumpter could handle a good frontcourt like Oklahoma's.
Fraser answered with a solid performance and the four guards made a statement with defensive pressure that didn't allow the Sooners (4-1) to have any kind of perimeter game in the second half when Villanova pulled away.
"I know our guys believed we could beat them and even if we lost this game they would believe it," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "Everyone talks about our guards, but in our locker room we know what our forwards can do."
Like Fraser, the high school All-America whose career has been slowed by seven surgeries, five on his knees and two on his hands. He has been limited to 50 starts over his first three seasons.
"We're always prepared not to have him and it's been that way for four years," Wright said. "We're happy for him personally. He isn't in pain and he played 26 minutes that way."
Fraser said he felt comfortable in a game against a good frontcourt.
"I felt like myself," he said.
Fraser, who had a total of 13 points in the first three games this season, was asked how long it had been since he felt that way.
"Four years," he said, smiling. "It's the best I'm feeling in a long time."
Taj Gray had 22 points for Oklahoma and fellow forward Kevin Bookout added 15. They combined for 27 of Oklahoma's 39 points in the second half as the Sooners guards were unable to get off shots let alone make them. Terrell Everett had 11 points and nine assists for the Sooners.
"Collectively, they may be the best group of guards we've played against," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. "My hat's off to Fraser for what that kid's been through. Their bigs are functional and they're guards are dynamite."
Oklahoma had a 21-10 rebound advantage in the first half, which ended tied at 35, but Villanova had a 10-8 advantage in the second half.
"If you told me before the game we would have a 29-20 rebound advantage and shoot 54 percent (28-for-52), I thought we would have won," Sampson said. "It felt like they shot 105 percent."
The Wildcats did shoot 57 percent (28-for-49) and they forced 17 turnovers, getting 27 points off them.
"The 17 turnovers did create some easy points for us," Wright said.
Gray scored on a long layup with 14:45 to play and tied the game at 50.
That's when the Wildcats went on a 16-5 run fueled by the backcourt pressure and perimeter defense. Foye had six points in the run, and Fraser added four. Fraser had eight points in a 5 1/2-minute stretch, the last of the points on a dunk with 6:12 to go that made it 74-63.
Austin Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 1:25 left to bring the Sooners within 79-74, but Foye made his second straight driving basket after running time off the clock to make it a seven-point game with 48 seconds to go.
Foye, whose previous best was 28 points in last season's NCAA tournament loss to North Carolina, was 14-for-21 from the field, including 3-for-8 on 3s.
"I would never have known he had 32 points," Wright said of Foye. "He does so much for us. He's a great leader. I think he's one of the best players in the country."
Foye said maybe the matchup problem belongs to the opponent rather than the Wildcats.
"We practice getting our own shots," he said. "I think it's pretty tough to defend us."
Sampson said he had seen Villanova enough to know how good the guards were.
"The next game it may be Ray getting 25 and Foye 10," he said.
Villanova wrapped it up with four free throws with 20 seconds left, two on a technical foul against Sampson.
The game was played before a sellout crowd of 6,500 at the on-campus Pavilion. Villanova was 23-for-25 from the free throw line.
"I'm proud of my guys for hanging in there," Sampson said. "I leave here encouraged, playing in this environment, with that group of guards."
It was the second game between the schools. Oklahoma won 78-59 in the regional final on the way to the 1988 Final Four.