Villanova has generally been nothing more than a middle-of-the-pack offensive team during coach Jay Wright’s tenure.
Suddenly, though, the Wildcats are looking like an offensive juggernaut.
Thirteenth-ranked Villanova has topped 90 points in three consecutive games, and it’ll look to keep rolling Friday night at West Virginia as it tries for a seventh straight win.
Wright’s first season with the Wildcats (20-4, 8-3 Big East) was 2001-02, and since then they’re sixth among current conference teams in scoring, averaging 72.7 points.
Villanova never scored more than 81 last season in a conference game and was averaging 73.5 in its first eight league contests this season before going on a tear over the last three.
Scottie Reynolds began the run by scoring 31 in a 94-91 win at Providence on Feb. 4, then Dante Cunningham put up 31 in a 102-85 victory against then-No. 20 Syracuse last Saturday. Reynolds led the way again Tuesday against No. 10 Marquette, finishing with 27 in a 102-84 win.
The Wildcats, seventh in the league in scoring this season, reached the 100-point mark in consecutive Big East games for the first time in school history.
“Sometimes, you’ve just got to outscore people,” Wright said. “We don’t like that, but that’s the only way we’re going to do it tonight.”
Villanova’s six-game conference winning streak is its longest since it won 10 straight from Jan. 11-Feb. 23, 2006.
Cunningham scored 2.2 points in nearly 20 minutes a game for that team, which came up one win shy of reaching the Final Four. Now a senior, the 6-foot-8 forward has drastically improved.
He’s the Wildcats’ leading scorer (17.0) and rebounder (7.3), and he’s shooting 67.7 percent during the winning streak.
Reynolds is averaging 22.7 points in his previous three games, and sophomore guard Corey Fisher has scored 15.7 in that same stretch.
“Our guards are playing like big-time Big East guards now,” Wright said.
They’ll need to keep it up Friday if swingman Dwayne Anderson can’t play. Anderson, who keyed the win at Providence with 19 points, 10 boards and five steals, has a hyperextended left knee and is questionable.
Anderson had a game-high 17 points and four steals in a 78-56 win over West Virginia last Feb. 20.
Villanova’s three high-scoring efforts came against some of the Big East’s lesser defensive teams, but it won’t find the same in Morgantown. The Mountaineers (16-8, 5-6) allow 61.0 points per game to rank among the conference’s three stingiest squads.
West Virginia, though, has lost four of six since a 75-58 win at then-No. 12 Georgetown Jan. 22, and may still need a signature victory to assure itself of a berth in the NCAA tournament.
It let games against top 10 teams Pittsburgh and Syracuse get away, and had another chance against the fourth-ranked Panthers on Monday. But leading scoring Da’Sean Butler (17.3) had four points while battling foul trouble, and the Mountaineers shot 40.4 percent in a 70-59 loss.
“Our defense was good enough to win - our offense wasn’t,” coach Bob Huggins said. “Nobody has ever won 0-0. You’ve got to score the ball.”
West Virginia is 12th in the Big East in field-goal percentage (43.0), and particularly needs Butler to shoot the ball better. The junior forward is averaging 10.0 points on 30.0 percent shooting in his last two games.
Villanova has lost its past three visits to Morgantown since a 73-62 win Jan. 23, 1999.