Five lessons from Villanova's win over Georgetown
Scottie Reynolds' rep as the best clutch guard in college hoops is safe
Depth matters in grind-it-out Big East games
Despite the result, give Greg Monroe some credit
PHILADELPHIA -- Five things we learned from No. 4 Villanova's 82-77 win over No. 11 Georgetown on Saturday ...
1. Scottie Reynolds' rep as the best clutch guard in college hoops is safe. He didn't have to beat the buzzer with a layup against the Hoyas, like he did against Pitt in last season's Elite Eight. This time, he just went 4-of-4 from the free-throw line in the final minute, and made his backbreaking play a bit earlier, at the 3:14 mark, shortly after Georgetown had completed a rally from 15 down at the half to even the game at 69-69, and momentum was swinging in the visiting team's direction. In transition, Reynolds cut a path from the left wing to the right block, driving past Hoyas guards Chris Wright and Jason Clark, and hit a high-banking runner (and was fouled) to put 'Nova up 71-69. It was vintage, instinctive Reynolds -- as coach Jay Wright said, a lot of those plays he makes at the end [of games] are not called plays -- he just knows we need him to make a play."
A lesser Reynolds moment came with 1:55 left, when he did something highly unusual: He crashed the offensive boards -- 'Nova's 1 and 2 guards are usually instructed to get back in transition -- and skied above two Hoyas to pull down a missed three from Reggie Redding, and call a timeout during a scrum on the floor. Corey Fisher would turn the ball over during the ensuing possession, but Reynolds' rebound meant that the ball would spend 10 more seconds in the Wilcats' hands -- a big deal, since the score was 80-77 with 9.5 seconds left. "That," Wright said, "might have been the biggest play of the game."
2. Fisher and Reynolds are foul-trouble machines for slow-rotating big men and slower-footed guards. Coming into Sunday's game, 'Nova's two lead guards were, on average, drawing a combined 11.2 fouls per 40 minutes. On Sunday, they combined for 15 free-throw attempts (making 13) and helped get multiple Hoyas in foul jeopardy, something that coach John Thompson III could ill-afford, since he uses a seven-man rotation. Forwards Julian Vaughn and Jerrelle Benimon and point guard Chris Wright all had three fouls at halftime; Vaughn would later foul out, while Benimon and Wright finished with four fouls apiece.
3. Depth matters in grind-it-out Big East games. Villanova's bench played a combined 70 minutes (35 percent of the game) and contributed 25 points. Georgetown's bench played 45 minutes (22.5 percent of the game) and contributed just four points. While the Hoyas didn't even have a backup point guard to use during Wright's foul trouble, the Wildcats were able to give Reynolds and Fisher breathers by playing ultra-confident freshman Maalik Wayns, who finished with 11 points and, like Reynolds, was 4-of-4 from the charity stripe in the game's last minute.
4. Despite the result, give Greg Monroe some credit. He was phenomenal, scoring 29 points, grabbing 16 rebounds, and displaying an intensity level that hasn't always been present during his career. "His energy level became contagious with the rest of our guys," said Thompson. "The passion he played with today was really good." Monroe was impressive not only on the block but also on the perimeter (he schooled 'Nova freshman Mouphtaou Yarou on a drive to the rim in the second half) and in transition, where he looked like a player who could be just fine in an up-tempo offense at the next level. If only Monroe hadn't airballed his last free throw, which could've brought the Hoyas to within two points with 9.5 seconds left. When that shot fell short, the air went out of the Hoyas' comeback bid.
5. Georgetown needed a better start out of Wright. He airballed a three in the opening minute, fouled Reynolds on a three-point attempt in the fifth minute, then picked up a second foul (also while guarding Reynolds) in the seventh minute. He went 1-for-5 (and 0-for-3 from long range) in the first half, and his lack of production was a big reason why the Hoyas fell into a 15-point hole. To his credit, Wright played smarter in the second half, dishing out four assists against just one turnover while taking zero shot attempts, allowing Monroe, Austin Freeman and Jason Clark to turn what might've been a blowout into a nailbiter.
For a more in-depth look at the state of the Big East, including reports from Syracuse-West Virginia and Georgetown-Villanova, check back for Luke Winn's Monday-morning column on SI.com.
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