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Wildcats Head North To Face Providence

Jan. 30, 2001

With 11:24 remaining in the second half, Villanova found itself in a familiar position at the Pavilion. Three triples from Jermaine Medley had vaulted the Wildcats into a 62-57 lead. The sellout crowd of 6,500 was on its feet and Boston College appeared to be reeling.

Alas, the Eagles were not grounded. Instead, they converted three steals into baskets, erased the deficit and outscored Villanova 31-16 the rest of the way to take an impressive 90-80 win back to Chesnut Hill.

"When we get that kind of lead in this building good things usually happen but today they didn't," said Villanova head coach Steve Lappas. "They got a couple of steals that they turned into points and we lost the lead quickly."

Boston College received career highs in points from both Kenny Harley (25) and Ryan Sidney (17). Each time the Wildcats moved closer, Boston College had an answer.

The loss was only Villanova's second in the Pavilion this year and only its fourth Big East Conference defeat in the building in the past three seasons.

Masterpiece in the Paint

Michael Bradley continued his relentless production on Saturday despite a wide assortment of defenses designed to stifle him.

"I've seen it all this year, box and ones, zones, man-to-man," noted Bradley.

Despite all the attention from the Eagles, Bradley came through with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the floor (.692). He has connected on less than 60 percent of his field goal attempts in exactly two games since joining the Wildcats this year: at Georgia on Dec. 28 (.471) and at Virginia Tech (.533).

What's more, Bradley has delivered 20 or more points in 14 of his 18 appearances this winter. Bradley leads the Big East and the nation in field goal percentage (.694). He is second in Big East scoring to Notre Dame's Troy Murphy.

"Bradley is a great player and we just tried to make it as difficult in there as we could," said Boston College coach Al Skinner. "He still got 23 points so it's not like we shut him down but we did enough things to allow us to win the game."

Bradley has been named Big East player of the week three times and has also earned the same distinction on three occasions from the Philadelphia Big Five.

Halves of Pain

On Saturday afternoon Villanova surrendered 50 points in the second half.

Tough defensive halves have been a nagging dilemma for the Wildcats this season.

On nine occasions in the season's first 18 games, Villanova has permitted the opponent to score 45 points or more in a half. In five of those instances the foe has put more than 50 points on the scoreboard in a 20-minute period.

Percentage wise, Villanova has surrendered 45 or more points in a half exactly 25 percent of the time.

Fortunately for the Wildcats they have some firepower of their own. Villanova has scored more than 45 points in a half nine times as well.

Medley Steps Up

Junior guard Jermaine Medley has entertained the Pavilion crowds over the course of his four seasons on the Main Line with his long-range shooting accuracy.

He was at it again on Saturday.

Medley made five triples in 13 attempts and broke out of a shooting slump in the process. Entering the day's play he was 3 of his last 20 attempts and 0-for-10. He missed his first four attempts on Saturday too.

But Medley fueled the Wildcats run early in the second half with triples. In addition, he handed out four assists and committed two turnovers.

His 17 points were one away from his season high, achieved on Dec. 5 at the Pavilion in a 69-62 win over Temple.

Medley is second to Gary Buchanan in triples made among the Wildcats with 41 and leads the team with 126 attempts from beyond the arc.

Bryant's Been Missed

Freshman guard Reggie Bryant was last healthy on Dec. 30 when the Wildcats defeated St. Francis (Pa.) 92-65. The native of Baltimore subsequently suffered an abdominal muscle strain.

Neither he nor his team have been the same since.

Bryant attempted to play through the pain during the first five games in the new year. However, he only scored five points in that span and he only remotely resembled the player whom had posted 17 points at the University of Georgia on Dec. 28.

"Reggie's absence has been a huge blow," said head coach Steve Lappas.

Bryant has not dressed for the last three games and remains doubtful for the foreseeable future.

With Bryant in full health, Villanova was 10-2. Since he has been ailing, the Wildcats are 2-4 and 1-2 in the games in which he has not appeared.

Prior to his injury, Bryant averaged 8.0 ppg.

Free Stuff

Gary Buchanan likes to call them "free points." And for this 6-4 sophomore from St. Louis, that is most certainly what free throws are.

Buchanan arrives in Providence tonight riding a streak of 59 consecutive made free throws. On the year he is 67-of-68 (.985) at the line and hasn't missed in 16 games.

This marks the second year in a row that Buchanan has shattered the Villanova record for consecutive made free throws. Last year he converted 45 in a row, bettering the old mark of 30. He moved past his own record at Connecticut on Jan. 24.

On the horizon for Buchanan is the NCAA Division I record of 64 straight free throws, held by Joe Dykstra of Western Illinois (1981-82). The overall collegiate mark set by Paul Cluxton of Northern Kentucky is 94 in a row. Cluxton, by the way, did not miss a free throw for the entire 1996-97 season.

Interestingly, Buchanan is getting to the line with greater frequency than he did as a rookie in 1999-2000. As a freshman he attempted 74 free throws and made 69 in 33 games. He has already attempted 68 free throws this year in just 18 games.

Buchanan is second on the Wildcats in scoring at 14.3 ppg and in minutes played (611-33.9 mpg).

Training Room Update

With Andrew Sullivan again healthy (sprained left knee), Bryant is the focus of the injury report. His strained abdominal muscle is being treated and he is not expected to dress for this evening's encounter with the Friars.

Brooks is a Barometer

One of the individuals to keep an eye on when it comes to studying the work of the Wildcats is junior forward Brooks Sales.

When Sales is in the offensive and rebounding flow, Villanova tends to be much more effective than when he isn't in that groove.

Consider: in VU's six losses, Sales has taken an average of 4.7 field goal attempts per game.

When Villanova has won, Sales has averaged 6.4 attempts per game.

Sales averages 7.8 points and 5.4 rebounds in the six Villanova losses. When Villanova wins, Sales averages 11.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per outing.

75 is Significant

The ledger shows that when Villanova has reached 75 points in the last nine years, its odds of success are great.

Under Steve Lappas, the Wildcats are 108-21 (.837) when they score 75 points or more in a game. Last year, Villanova was 8-1 in such contests and is now 9-3 (.750) in that department this season.

When Villanova doesn't reach the 75-point plateau it is 3-3 (.500).