1Villanova
UCF
76 - 68 Final
  for this game

Fisher, Villanova hold off upset-minded Central Florida

Nov 23, 2007 - 5:21 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Corey Fisher threw his name into the growing list of phenomenal freshmen around the country.

Fisher scored 18 points off the bench and Scottie Reynolds added 19 as 19th-ranked Villanova narrowly avoided being upset by Central Florida with a 76-68 victory on Thursday in the first round of the Old Spice Classic.

Reggie Redding added 14 points for Villanova (3-0), which will move on to face the winner of the game between George Mason and Kansas State later Thursday.

Fisher missed the Wildcats' first two games with tendinitis in his left knee and then played four scoreless minutes against Bucknell on Sunday.

"I just got a little confident when I hit my first shot," Fisher said.

"We're not even seeing him at 100 percent," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "He missed a lot of practice. But he's been very, very coachable. I'm very pleased with his effort."

Fisher has been overlooked in a season with a great stock of first-year stars, including Kansas State's Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo of Southern California and Indiana's Eric Gordon.

But even with Fisher, it was not easy for the Wildcats, who had to fight and claw until the end against a game Knights' team that trailed just 33-28 at halftime.

"We are a little unorganized and a little sloppy," Wright said. "UCF was a very organized, experienced team and I think they showed basketball intelligence a little more than us."

Villanova, which never led by more than eight points in the second half, shot 43 percent (25-of-57), but it was Fisher who showed poise in running the offense at the end.

The Knights (2-1) pulled to within 56-53 on a 3-pointer by David Noel with 8:26 remaining.

But that was as close as they would get thanks to Fisher, who then netted eight straight points, including two 3-pointers, to stretch the lead to 64-53 with 6:49 left.

Villanova then held off Central Florida by hitting all 10 of its free throws in the final two minutes.

Mike O'Donnell scored 24 points, including six shots from the arc, for Central Florida, which shot 75 percent (21-of-28) from the free-throw line.

"It's a learning experience for us. I'm very disappointed we didn't play better," said UCF coach Kirk Speraw, whose team had 17 turnovers.