Marquette Sets Sights on #4 Villanova

Coming off of a 20-point victory over conference foe St. John's at the Bradley Center, Marquette travels to Pennsylvania for an afternoon match up with #4 Villanova.

Marquette is 3-5 all-time against Villanova, the last meeting resulting in a 73-61 Marquette win at Madison Square Garden during the 2002 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Wildcat seniors Allen Ray and Randy Foye combined for 26 points as freshman in that contest, and now lead their team together scoring 19.1 and 20.4 points per game respectively.

"We played against Randy Foye, Jason Fraser, Allan Ray and Curtis Sumpter in the Final Four year," Marquette head coach Tom 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."

Ray has led the Wildcats in scoring in three of the last four, putting up 22 against Syracuse, 23 against Notre Dame and 26 against Louisville. Before Ray took over, it was Foye who had high totals in two of three games, putting in 24 at USF and 19 against Seton Hall and also dropped in 32 in a non-conference win against then-#5 Oklahoma.

The Golden Eagles have a weapon of their own, however, in Steve Novak, who has become nothing short of a long range sniper. In his 29-point performance against St. John's, Novak hit 6 three pointers for the third time in five games, dating back to the victory at DePaul.

Villanova may have an answer for Novak if they continue their three-point success. The Wildcats are coming off a 14-three point effort against Louisville and have hit as many as 17 in a game this season. As the numbers show, Marquette and Villanova are very comparable in both shooting offensively and defensively.

Villanova leads the Big East Conference in 3-point field goal percentage (.409). The Golden Eagles rank second at .408. The Wildcats have limited foes to .332 shooting from beyond the arc while Marquette is holding its opponents to .333. In its last two contests, Villanova has been hurt by the deep ball. Against Notre Dame and Louisville combined to connect on 20-of-43 (.465) from outside the arc. The 12 triples hit by the Cardinals were only fewer than the season high 13 given up to West Virginia.

Marquette fans will be delighted once again to have freshman Wes Matthews back in the lineup. After missing eight games due to suffering a stress fracture in his foot, Matthews returned against St. John's to come off of the bench and dish out a team-high 4 assists in only 17 minutes of action.

Coach Crean will be going for a winning record against top-5 teams, as Marquette is 5-5 against the country's best during his tenure.

"They are definitely a hard team to play. Their quickness and speed is phenomenal. We are going to have to play physical and aggressive Saturday," said Crean.

Marquette squares off with Villanova on Saturday at 1pm CST at Villanova's Pavilion.

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