This week - in addition to previewing the Sweet 16 contest between the Villanova Wildcats and the Duke Blue Devils - I'll be looking back at the ten previous games in which Villanova has met Duke. Today we'll take a look at the most recent meeting between the Wildcats and Blue Devils. It was nearly nine years ago, at Cameron Indoor Stadium, in the Preseason NIT.
In the Preseason NIT, in what would be coach Steve Lappas's ninth and final season at the helm in the Main Line, the Wildcats travelled to Cameron Indoor Stadium, on November 17, 2000. Villanova had advanced by defeating Fairfield, 101-85, at the Pavilion. They faced a Blue Devils squad, that would become the eventual national champions, four months later.
Duke got past the Wildcats, 98-85. The Blue Devils led 51-40 at halftime, and ultimately forced a horrific 29 turnovers (not a typo). Villanova outrebounded Duke, 31-23, and the Blue Devils committed 19 turnovers of their own.
However, center Michael Bradley had a monster game for 'Nova; it was the beginning of his brilliant, All-American season, after transferring from Kentucky. After the season, he would opt to forgo his final year of eligibility, having played two years at Kentucky under Rick Pitino, a single year at Villanova, and having graduated (due to having to sit out the 1999-2000 season).
When Villanova did not turn over the ball, the Wildcats shot well, hitting 62.1% of their shots. (Although what really hurt was the poor accuracy from three-point range, as Villanova hit just 23.1% of those shots.) Bradley finished with 28 points on 12-16 shooting, as well as eight rebounds. Shooting guard Gary Buchanan scored 11 points on 4-9 shooting, while forwards Brooks Sales and Aaron Matthews added 10 points apiece.
The diminutive combo guard Jermaine Medley started at the point, scoring five points, dealing five assists and committing seven turnovers; he was spelled by guard Derrick Snowden. Also coming in off the bench, were sophomore forwards Ricky Wright and Andrew Sullivan, and freshman guard Reggie Bryant (who subsequently transferred). Unfortunately, the team also permitted the Blue Devils to shoot well, hitting 59.3% of their shots.
Looking at the Duke side of the box score, here were the key contributors for the once and future kings of college basketball, the Blue Devils, as half a dozen reached double figures:
- Center Carlos Boozer had a game-high 29 points on 9-15 shooting, six rebounds and five steals.
- Forward Shane Battier played all 40 minutes, had 18 points on 7-13 shooting, and seven rebounds.
- Forward Nate James had a dozen points and four rebounds.
- Guard Mike Dunleavy, Jr., scored 16 points on 6-8 shooting and four rebounds. (Ironically, Dunleavy's brother Baker, would eventually become a valued practice player for the Villanova Wildcats.)
- Point guard Jason Williams had a double-double, with 13 points, 10 assists, and five steals.
- Off the bench, guard Chris Duhon added 17 points on 6-8 shooting, including 4-6 from beyond the arc, along with four assists and two steals.
Duke was awarded the top seed in the East Region come March, and reached the Final Four along with ACC rival Maryland, Arizona, and defending national champion Michigan State. In the national semifinal, Duke made an astonishing, historic comeback from an enormous deficit against the Terrapins, to advance to the title game against Arizona. The Blue Devils triumphed on Monday night to give Coach K his third national championship, and his first since he won back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992.
The Wildcats, for their part, were a bubble team that went 8-8 in the Big East, defeated West Virginia in the conference tournament opening round, but fell short against Boston College and probably came up just that one victory short of an NCAA bid. After nine seasons as head coach, Lappas would depart for Massachusetts, after the Wildcats ended their season at Minnesota, in the first round of the NIT. Jay Wright, the former Villanova assistant under Rollie Massimino and then the head coach at Hofstra, was introduced immediately afterwards. The rest is history.
There have been no meetings since then - until Thursday.
Check back for more posts, both on the history of Villanova/Duke, and a comprehensive preview of Thursday's Sweet 16 contest, at around 10 PM in Boston...
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