South Florida-Villanova Preview
Scottie Reynolds and Villanova never lost consecutive games last season en route to the Final Four. This season has been a different story.
The No. 7 Wildcats look to avoid a third straight defeat Wednesday night against South Florida, Reynolds' final game at The Pavilion.
Villanova (22-4, 11-3 Big East) has dropped into second place behind No. 4 Syracuse with its first consecutive losses since Feb. 25-March 2, 2008. The Wildcats visit the Orange on Saturday.
Before worrying about that showdown, Villanova is looking to get back on track after a tough week. The Wildcats fell 84-75 at home to Connecticut on Feb. 15 and 70-65 at then-No. 19 Pittsburgh on Sunday.
"It's been a long time since we lost back-to-back games," Reynolds said. "I can't hang my head and I can't let the other guys hang their (heads) either."
Villanova should be confident Wednesday as it has won 36 straight at The Pavilion since falling to DePaul on Jan. 6, 2007.
"We get to play on their on-campus facility, which a little bit different," South Florida coach Stan Heath said. "I don't know what it seats, but they've got five or six thousand, and they're all right on top of you."
This will be the last appearance at The Pavilion for Reynolds. The four-year starter originally committed to Oklahoma before Kelvin Sampson left as Sooners coach, and the guard to choose Villanova instead.
Reynolds is part of a class that has amassed 96 wins, and will be forever remembered for his shot that beat Pittsburgh and put the Wildcats into the Final Four last year.
The Panthers gained revenge Sunday in the teams' first meeting since that matchup. Villanova gave up 34 free throws after allowing Connecticut to shoot 44 the game before.
Reynolds scored a team-high 20 points for Villanova, which has had five players foul out over the last two games.
Coach Jay Wright is confident his club will bounce back.
"I think the good thing about our team is that they understand how to move on to the next game," he said. "When we were winning, that's what we told them. It's what we always talk about. I think that's really important, especially during the Big East season. That's not going to change."
The Wildcats are 3-0 against South Florida (16-10, 6-8), winning 70-61 last Jan. 24 on the road. Neither team's star guard played well as Reynolds was held to seven points and the Bulls' Dominique Jones fouled out with 11 on 3-of-9 shooting.
Jones averaged 35.0 points on 55.3 percent from the field during a four-game win streak from Jan. 23-Feb. 3. The stretch included two victories over ranked teams that got South Florida into contention for an NCAA at-large berth. Jones, though, has averaged 17.3 points and 32.4 percent shooting as the Bulls have gone 1-3 since.
The guard shot 6 of 18 for 17 points in a 74-58 home loss to St. John's on Saturday.
"This is a pivotal, pivotal game," Heath said. "Villanova is coming off two losses, so they're not going to be a happy bunch of guys and we just laid an egg and we're not very happy either."