Men's Basketball Set to Visit No. 4 Villanova
Golden Eagles face nationally ranked team for third time in last four road games
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MILWAUKEE ? For the second time in as many games, Marquette will meet a team in in conference for the first time that it has recent non-conference experience with. Marquette squares off with Villanova on Saturday, February 4 at 2 p.m. EST (1 p.m. local time) at Villanova's Pavilion. The game is scheduled to air locally on WDJT 58.
Marquette last met Villanova in the 2002 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden, winning 73-61.
Several similarities exist between the 2002-03 Villanova team and this year?s team that is ranked no. 4 in both polls. Allen Ray and Randy Foye, the Wildcats top scorers, were both freshman starters on that squad and combined for 26 points in the game.
"We played against Randy Foye, Jason Fraser, Allan Ray and Curtis Sumpter in the Final Four year," Crean said. "Those guys were freshmen then, they have stayed together four years and have added some pieces to become a very good basketball team. The two seniors are potential NBA first round picks."
Like Villanova, Marquette met its previous opponent, St. John?s, in the 2003 Coaches vs. Cancer. Marquette defeated the Red Storm this season by 20, thanks to 29 points from senior Steve Novak.
It has been Novak who has been the guiding force of the Marquette offense in recent games. Novak struck for six three pointers against St. John's, marking the third time in five games and seventh of the season that he has hit that mark.
Despite his season-long success, he knows that facing one of the toughest teams in the BIG EAST on the road is going to be a difficult task.
"No question they are the top team in the conference right now," Novak said. "They have been together for four years. They are a special team, and I think everyone knew that they were going to be."
With Foye and Ray, the Wildcats are one of the more menacing teams in the BIG EAST. Foye is currently averaging 20.4 points per game while Ray is at 19.1 per game.
Ray has been the predominant scorer of late. He has led the Wildcats in scoring in three of the last four, putting in 22 against Syracuse, 23 against Notre Dame and 26 against Louisville. Prior to that stretch, it was Foye who had high totals in two of three games, putting in 24 at USF and 19 against Seton Hall.
Foye?s biggest outing came in Villanova?s early season win against no. 5 Oklahoma. He scored 32 points in the early December win. Allan?s season high is the 26 he scored against Louisville on January 30.
Four Villanova starters average 10 or more points per game.
Sophomore guard Kyle Lowrey scores 10.6 per game, but has Villanova?s second highest total of the year with 28 at Rutgers.
"They are a legitement contender," Crean added. "They are definately a hard team to play. Their quickness and speed is phenomenal. They know how to a blow out game and a close game because they can feed off each other. We are going to have play physical and aggressive Saturday."
Villanova is a long-distance shooting team. They are coming off a 14-three point effort against Louisville and have hit as many as 17 in a game this season.