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No. 8 Villanova 64, Oral Roberts 46

January 9, 1997

VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) _ For Jason Lawson, it was tell and show night at school.

First, he told his Villanova teammates their loss to Providence two days earlier was unacceptable. Then he showed them what it takes to win as the eighth-ranked Wildcats beat Oral Roberts 64-46 Wednesday night.

Lawson, who only had six points in the 91-68 loss to the Friars, rebounded with a 19-point effort against the Golden Eagles.

``I don’t think you can get over a loss like that,″ Lawson said of the Providence game. ``We just have to move on and keep it in the back of your mind.″

For awhile, it looked like the Wildcats (12-2) still had their minds in Rhode Island. Undersized Oral Roberts (9-4) hung with Villanova for most of the first half.

``Early in the game, we did a good job of attacking them and getting a couple of good back-door baskets,″ Golden Eagles coach Bill Self said.

The Wildcats seemed lethargic, which was surprising since most observers felt they would be ready to atone for the debacle in Providence.

A dunk by Rocky Walls closed Oral Roberts to 25-23 with 4:13 left in the half, and the Villanova lead was only five at halftime.

Oral Roberts’ Earl McClellan scored the second half’s first points on two free throws to cut the Villanova lead to 34-31, and the Golden Eagles were dreaming of an upset. A dream is all it turned out to be.

The Wildcats went on a 13-4 spurt after McClellan’s free throws, taking a 47-35 lead on Howard Brown’s 3-pointer with 11:17 left in the game.

Oral Roberts scored the next four points, but the Wildcats went on a 9-0 run in a little more than a minute, with Lawson scoring all but two of the points.

Including that 9-0 spurt, Villanova outscored Oral Roberts 15-4 during a five-minute stretch that ended when Thomas’ two free throws made it 62-43 with 3:34 left.

``When the boulder started rolling down hill, we couldn’t stop it. Then we stopped playing,″ said Self, whose team made only two field goals in the game’s last nine minutes.

Villanova coach Steve Lappas, booed by the home crowd when he was announced before the game, credited his team’s solid defense, which limited the Golden Eagles to 23 percent shooting (6-of-26) in the second half and forced 10 second-half turnovers.

``I was very happy with the way we played defensively,″ Lappas said. ``It helped lead to a lot of transition baskets for us.″

The transition baskets helped make up for the Wildcats’ disorganization when they weren’t running well.

``We have to concentrate on our halfcourt offense,″ Lappas said. ``That’s where we’re having our problems right now.″

Self wishes he had the kind of problems Villanova has.

``It’s scary how good I think they can and will be, because they’ve got all the pieces to the puzzle,″ Self said of the Wildcats. ``We’ve never played against a team as talented as that.″

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