LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Louisville coach Rick Pitino had joked
that watching Villanova on tape made him sick.
Seeing the third-ranked Wildcats zip by his
Cardinals (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today; No. 9 AP) 76-67 on Thursday night made Pitino dizzy and his players
believers about what lies ahead in the Big East.
"I don't think anyone in Louisville knew how tough the Big East
and Villanova was before tonight, now they all know," Pitino said.
"Villanova was just a better basketball team."
Randy Foye scored 24 points and Allan Ray added 17 as the
Wildcats welcomed Louisville to the Big East by featuring the kind
of speed and depth the Cardinals rarely faced during their days in
"We played extremely tough and aggressive," Villanova coach
Jay Wright said. "Our defense and rebounding kept us in it. ...
Every time Louisville made runs at us [our] guys made big plays.
Game number one in the Big East, that's what it's going to be
With Foye and Ray forcing the Cardinals to spread the floor,
Villanova reserve center Jason Fraser found enough room to score 13
points on 6-of-6 shooting. Villanova outrebounded Louisville 42-34
and held the Cardinals to 43 percent shooting as the Wildcats
continued their best start since winning the first 12 games in
1961-62. The 10-game winning streak is the longest since an 11-game
run during the 1995-96 season.
David Padgett led Louisville with 17 points and six rebounds
before fouling out with less than 3 minutes to go. Brandon Jenkins
and Chad Millard each added 12 points for Louisville, which got
only nine points in 18 foul-plagued minutes from leading scorer
"We've just learned what to do since our freshman year and
that's not to get excited and to execute when we need to," Fraser
said. "We just played Villanova basketball better than Louisville
played Louisville basketball."
Pitino tried to match Villanova's speed, starting three guards
as a way to keep up with Villanova's four-guard lineup.
But the Wildcats simply couldn't keep up. Villanova contested
shots, deflected passes and grabbed offensive rebounds while the
Cardinals were often left clutching at air.
"Their guards are so unbelievably quick on defense, they slap
down a lot and get a lot of steals," Padgett said. "Their press
makes it hard for you to run your offense."
The Wildcats never trailed and hardly looked rattled playing
their first game west of Pennsylvania. Though Louisville cut the
lead to one possession a handful of times in the second half,
whenever a big basket needed to be made, Foye or Ray would knock it
"When it came down to it, I knew what to do," Foye said. "No
one was going to take the ball from me."
The Wildcats had an answer for every combination the Cardinals
threw at them. Big lineup. Small lineup. It didn't matter. The
Wildcats played with the kind of savvy Pitino knows it will take
his team time to learn.
"With seven new players, you're never going to have an
experienced lineup," Pitino said. "This is who we are. ... Our
guys did a good job. The key is six weeks from now, how good can we
Foye hit his first four shots and the Wildcats took a 21-9 lead,
rattling the Cardinals with their quickness.
Dean picked up his third foul 9 minutes in, but the Cardinals
collected themselves behind improbable contributions from freshmen
Millard and Bryan Harvey.
"The fouls took me out of it," Dean said. "I had a lot of
energy but maybe I was too anxious. I thought our guys played
Harvey and Millard entered the game combining for less than four
points per game but they had 12 in the first half as the Cardinals
drew within a point before a late run put the Wildcats up 36-30 at
"You can't just sit back," Foye said. "You've got to get out
on them and be aggressive. Coach told us we had to come out with a
lot of energy. You've got to be tough and you can't get your head