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postGame: Villanova 83 Syracuse 72

Game ended approximately 1:59 PM eastern time.  Villanova Wildcats defeat Syracuse Orange 83-72.  Some notes on the game are below.

-In this budding rivalry, the Wildcats and Orange traded buckets early on, with a bevy of Villanova players getting involved in the scoring.

-The Cats nursed a 2 point lead with twelve minutes remaining, but the momentum abruptly swung in favor of the visitors behind an array of three pointers.  Maalik Wayns starred during the run, as he could not be stopped from anywhere on the floor.  As a result, the crowd was silenced and Villanova led by 10 for much of the latter part of the first half.

-In addition to the hot shooting, Nova played solid halfcourt defense for the most part, as evidenced by Syracuse's 8 first half turnovers.  Couple with that Wayns' 17 points and 8 team threes, and it all added up to a double digit halftime lead for the good guys in the Carrier Dome. 

-Halftime score: Villanova 40 Syracuse 29

More on the game after the jump...

-Syracuse looked to come out of the break energized, as they scored 2 quick buckets to rile up the home fans.  The always reliable Corey Stokes responded though with clutch treys to restore some order and a 10 point lead for the Wildcats by the first media timeout.

-We all knew the Orange weren't going to fold on their own court, and Kris Joseph took it upon himself to spark his team.  Through a series of drives and 3 pointers, Joseph upped his point total to 17, which helped cut the Wildcat lead to 6 with eleven minutes left in the game. 

-Could the Cats respond again in the face of adversity?  Behind another bomb from Stokes and some stellar putbacks by Maurice Sutton and Mouphtaou Yarou, Villanova answered the bell.  A couple of more Cuse turnovers allowed the Cats to regain the momentum of the game.  With six minutes remaining, Villanova had their biggest lead at 13.

-Syracuse was forced to pick up the pressure, and the Cats had trouble handling it, which led to some easy transition buckets for the Orange.  An 11-0 run sliced the game to a 69-65 Nova advantage with 2 and change left.  Wayns and Corey Fisher were finally able to break the press, which aided in extending the lead back up to 8.  Cuse went into foul mode, and the 12th best free throw shooting team in the nation hit every single one of their freebies down the stretch to seal the huge road victory. 

-In terms of stats, Maalik Wayns led the way with 21 total points.  Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes both had 16 points, with Fisher chipping in 7 assists.  Antonio Pena and Maurice Sutton were superb down low, as Pena notched 10 points and 8 boards, while Sutton scored 8 and grabbed 5 rebounds.  For Syracuse, Kris Joseph had 23 points but he did commit 6 turnovers.  Rick Jackson put up another double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds.

-General observations:

  • What an f'n win.  Going into the Carrier Dome in front of 33,000 plus coming off a tough loss against UConn and sticking it to Syracuse was just flat out impressive. 
  • While it's usually the guards for Jay Wright sticking out, the big men for Villanova were unreal today.  Pena and Yarou did a great job on the glass against one of the better rebounding reams in the country.  And how about Maurice Sutton?  He had some huge rebounds late in the game and his defense was just phenomenal on Kris Joseph when it mattered most.  Joseph was hot in the second half, and Sutton really bothered him over the last 7 or 8 minutes. 
  • Two of the biggest aspects of the game that won it for Nova was the ball movement and the overall defense.  Villanova passed the ball extremely well, which had the Syracuse zone running in circles.  The Cats found the open man more times than not, leading to easy shots, usually from deep.  In terms of the defense, although there were some lapses in the second half, Nova did a great job against a potent offensive team that is capable of making deadly runs.  Forcing 16 turnovers for the game speaks to the Wildcat presence on the defensive end. 
  • 22-24 from the line?  Yes that was Villanova's stat line from the charity stripe.  It really speaks volumes to Jay Wright, because year in and year out, his squads are always near the top in free throw shooting.  Villanova's prowess at the line today certainly was a huge factor in closing out the Orange late. 
  • Again, this is a big f'n win.