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February 19, 2006
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VILLANOVA, Pa. - Hard to believe now that Villanova's four-guard starting lineup was born only out of necessity.
The unique approach has the fourth-ranked Wildcats in first place in the Big East. The next stop could soon be the top of the rankings.
''Being No. 1 in the country would definitely be a great accomplishment for the school and the fans and everyone,'' Ray said.
The Wildcats (21-2, 11-1 Big East) opened the season with 10 straight wins, giving them two 10-game winning streaks in the same season for the first time in school history. They have also won 17 of their last 18 Big East games, including a win against No. 1 Connecticut on Monday.
The buzz over their first win against a top-ranked team in nearly 11 years was all the players heard about the last week. Coach Jay Wright told his players to ignore the distractions.
''Everybody was like good game, great game,'' Foye said. ''Even up until yesterday, people were still sending me (instant messages) and calling me and saying, 'Good game against UConn.' I was saying to myself, we've got Georgetown tomorrow.''
One of the surprises of the Big East, the Hoyas (17-7, 8-5) lost their third straight game.
As they've carried the Wildcats all season, the four-guard starting lineup hit all the clutch baskets when they were needed and now some thinking about reaching No. 1 in the poll.
Wright has the same advice to his players as he did after the UConn win.
''We hear it all the time, so you think about it because everybody talks about it around here,'' Wright said. ''We spend all our time with each other talking about, 'Forget about it.' It's such a mythical thing and everybody talks about it.''
Just like the Huskies, the Hoyas boasted a big front line that could have caused Villanova trouble. No matter. Kyle Lowry picked it apart with five straight points late in the second half that helped turn a two-point lead into a comfortable margin in about 1 1/2 minutes.
Even with a size advantage at nearly every position, Georgetown was outrebounded 31-30 and beaten 13-9 on the offensive glass.
''That's one thing Coach stressed early in the season, that if we're going to play four guards, we better rebound,'' Ray said.
With forward Curtis Sumpter recovering from two ACL operations on his left knee, Wright decided to stick Lowry in the lineup at point and shift Nardi to the traditional shooting guard role. The Wildcats haven't looked back since: They're one win away from matching the best start in school history set in 1937-38.
''Where we are right now, we need everyone to play well to win,'' Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. ''Hopefully in a couple of years, we won't need everyone to play well to win.''
Trailing by 10 midway through the second half, the Hoyas got a 3-pointer from Cook, a three-point play from Green and finally a layup by Hibbert that helped pull the Hoyas to 59-57.
Then Lowry, the point guard sparkplug who plays like a mini Allen Iverson, got the Wildcats back on track. He used a little spin move at the top of the arc to get by one defender, then fought through the lane and blew through two more for a basket and a foul. He sank the foul shot.
He scooted right by Georgetown's big men the next time down again for a right-handed layup, and Ray followed with his fourth 3-pointer to send the crowd into a frenzy.
''You see the toughness out there, you see those plays, but there's a lot of basketball intelligence that he brought to Villanova,'' Wright said. ''That's what good point guards do.''
The Villanova student section started chanting ''We're No. 1!'' and when Ray made another 3, he pumped his fist and smiled.
''We have a handful of teams that are able to win a national championship and clearly Villanova is one of those teams,'' Thompson said.
Villanova had a season-low three turnovers to 10 for Georgetown, and the Wildcats shot 54 percent in the second.For more coverage of the Villanova Wildcats, check out VUSports.com.
For more coverage of the Georgetown Hoyas, check out HoyaReport.com.
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