for this game

Marquette, Villanova ring in the new year

Jan 1, 2009 - 11:29 AM (13) Villanova (12-1) at Marquette (11-2, 2:30pm, EST

MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- For only the second time in the program's history, Villanova will play on New Year Day as the 13th-ranked Wildcats visit Marquette in the Big East Conference opener for both teams.

Villanova completed the non-conference portion of its schedule with a 12-1 record, including a 62-45 victory over Temple in its last outing on Monday.

However, the Wildcats had to overcome a sluggish start as they were held to a season-low 22 points in the first half before finishing the game with a 38-15 run.

"These games really help prepare us for the Big East," said Villanova coach Jay Wright, who is 4-3 in conference openers.

Villanova's only other game on New Year's Day came in 1955, when the Wildcats defeated North Carolina State, 90-78, at the Palestra.

Sophomore guard Corey Fisher rescued Villanova on Monday, matching a career-high with 23 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including 4-of-4 from beyond the arc. The rest of the Wildcats were a combined 13-of-42 from the field.

Marquette (11-2) has been off since drubbing Presbyterian, 84-45, on Saturday. Lazar Hayward scored 22 points and Wesley Matthews added 21 for the Golden Eagles.

During the game, Matthews, a senior, became the 22nd player in school history to combine for 500 rebounds and 1,000 points. He now owns 1,282 points and 501 boards in 105 career outings.

Picked sixth in the league's preseason coaches' poll, Marquette is one of just three programs to claim 10-or-more victories in conference play in each of the last three seasons. The others are Georgetown and Pittsburgh.