A healthy dose of Scottie Reynolds and some pressure defense led to a Wildcat victory in Louisville Monday night. Despite being down 17 points in the first half, a strong second hand featuring a full-court press and stifling man-to-man defense forced the Louisville Cardinals into numerous turnovers (21 for the game) and poor shooting (19-for-62 from the field, 30.6%). When the Cardinals were able to rally and put together a string of score-and-stops, Scottie Reynolds was there to answer for the 4th ranked Wildcats. He finished with 36 points, on 9-of-10 shooting, including a perfect 5-for-5 from 3-point range. Louisville had no answer to the Senior Guard. They struggled to contain him, especially as he used screens. When the Louisville defenders went over the screens, Reynolds blew by then, finishing in a variety of scoop shots and floaters in the paint and when the Cardinals went under the picks, Reynolds was able to step back and hit a long-range shot.
Louisville was a different team without Sophomore Forward Samardo Samuels on the court throughout the game. Villanova's frontcourt couldn't match Samuels' physicality inside. He helped the Cardinals collect a +12 rebounding advantage, but even that was not enough to overcome their shooting woes. Samuels had a perfect shooting night; 4-for-4 from the field and 13-of-13 from the foul line, finishing with 21 points, but Louisville needed to and should have gone to Samuels every time down the court. Instead, their offense relied too much on perimeter shooting or the lack thereof.
This win puts Villanova at the top of the Big East standings at 4-0 and drops Louisville to 3-1. Villanova takes on Georgetown this weekend at home, while Louisville travels to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers Saturday afternoon.