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Rutgers' backcourt leads it to upset of Villanova

Jan 24, 2008 - 5:31 AM PISCATAWAY, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Freshman Mike Coburn and junior Anthony Farmer helped Rutgers finally get its first conference win of the season.

Coburn scored a season-high 23 points and Farmer had a career-best 23 as the Scarlet Knights snapped a six-game losing streak, surprising No. 18 Villanova, 80-68, on Wednesday.

The two Rutgers guards shot a combined 15-of-24 from the floor, including 5-of-6 on 3-pointers.

"Our guards were outstanding," Rutgers coach Fred Hill said. "They did a phenomenal job of executing the game plan. Certainly everyone talks about the highly-touted guards that Villanova has and deservedly so because they're outstanding players, but we have a few pretty good guards too."

The duo scored the first 13 points for the Scarlet Knights as they got off to a big start and led the game from start to finish.

After missing its opening shot of the game, Rutgers (9-11, 1-6 Big East) made seven straight - capped by a 3-pointer from JR Inman - to jump out to a 16-2 lead with 15:11 left in the first half.

Villanova (13-4, 3-3) slowly closed within four with under four minutes left in the half, but Rutgers continued its hot shooting and Farmer's 3-pointer gave the Scarlet Knights a 40-32 advantage at the break.

Farmer had 15 of his points in the opening half, shooting 6-of-7 from the field and making all three of his 3-point attempts. Overall, Rutgers shot 64 percent (16-of-25) from the field in the opening 20 minutes.

In the second half, the Scarlet Knights used their defense and took advantage of some horrid shooting from the Wildcats to expand the lead.

Villanova had trimmed the deficit to four early in the second half but then missed 12 straight shots and went scoreless for over 12 minutes as Rutgers slowly built the lead up to 56-39 with 7:29 to play.

Freshman Corey Fisher's jumper with 6:29 to play finally snapped the drought for Villanova, which had not made a basket since Dante Cunningham threw down a dunk with 18:56 left in the second half.

The Wildcats managed to cut a 19-point lead down to seven with 1:29 remaining, but were unable to get any closer.

"They made some unbelievably big time 3-pointers," Hill said. "It wasn't anything we did wrong, they just made shots. You have to keep your composure, we had freshman on the floor, but this is what big time Big East basketball is about."

The Scarlet Knights, who came into the game last in the Big East in shooting percentage at 40 percent, made 24-of-58 (50 percent) of its attempts to top the 80-point mark for just the second time all season.

"Tonight the key to winning was that we did those little things that we haven't been able to do," Hill said. "When you're building the program, there is a process and you have to learn how to win. I think tonight's game gave the young guys the confidence they need, and it showed the older guys that they have done a good job teaching the younger guys how to win basketball games."

Freshman Malcolm Grant scored a season-high 23 points and Scottie Reynolds added 16 to lead Villanova, which had its four-game winning streak against Rutgers snapped.

Reynolds shot just 5-of-19 from the field, including 1-of-9 from the arc, for the Wildcats, who made just 22-of-60 (37 percent) of their field goals.