Despite a team-leading 18 points from Brandon Mobley, Seton Hall was unable to hold off third-ranked Louisville, giving gallant effort before falling 73-58 to Rick Pitino's Cardinals in Newark. (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)
Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard on his team's effort:
"I'm proud of my guys. We battled for a good 30 minutes."
On Fuquan Edwin (13 points on 4-of-14 shooting) and the pressure he faced:
"This is the first time he's probably had this much attention, and he's got to get used to it."
On Brandon Mobley (18 points, 7 rebounds) and his evolution at power forward:
"I think he's got a long way to go, to be honest with you. His body is really limiting his effectiveness. He'll have a good 20 minutes...I had him pegged as a 25-minute guy. He's been forced to play way too many minutes, and his body can't handle that right now."
On the state of his team over the last two weeks:
"Coming out of the LIU game, I thought we had a chance to really get better, but we've really just had to survive. We're not creating enough turnovers to get enough opportunities to create ourselves. It's always off missed shots."
On Louisville in general:
"That's why this team is so special: They have those two guards (Peyton Siva and Russ Smith) who can really get after you."
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino on the Cardinals' second half effort on defense: (quote courtesy of Jason Guerette, who covered tonight's game for New Jersey Newsroom)
"In the second half, we played excellent defense. When you guard the three-point line or the low post, the defense has to put pressure on the basketball. We didn't have that in the first half. We had nine deflections at halftime and we ended up with 33. They shot about 28 percent in the second half because of it."
Nuggets of Note:
- Give Seton Hall all the credit in the world for taking the fight to Louisville for the first 30 minutes, as Kevin Willard mentioned in his postgame press conference. After a Fuquan Edwin three tied the game at 42 with 12:53 remaining in regulation, the Prudential Center was the loudest we have ever heard it for a college basketball game. From there, it all went downhill for the Pirates, as Luke Hancock (7 points) knocked down a pair of three-pointers just 45 seconds apart that helped Louisville regain the lead for good on the way to a 31-16 run that closed out the game for the third-ranked Cardinals.
- Four Pirates scored in double figures (Mobley with 18, Gene Teague with 14, Edwin with 13 and Aaron Cosby with 11) despite Willard only playing an eight-man rotation due to Brian Oliver's ankle injury, and the Pirates remained in the game until Louisville went on a 13-4 run down the stretch to pull ahead by 17 points, their largest lead of the night. Three Cardinals scored in double figures, led by a double-double from Gorgui Dieng, who had 16 points and 14 rebounds. In addition to Russ Smith's 11 points, Montrezl Harrell added 14 on 7-of-9 shooting as Rick Pitino's replacement for the injured Chane Behanan in the starting lineup.
- Seton Hall's press defense was as good as it has ever been since Willard arrived in South Orange three years ago. Peyton Siva managed seven assists, but did not look good on the offensive end on his way to a 2-of-6 shooting effort. The senior guard was frequently pressured and double-teamed, as was Russ Smith, who was 2-for-11 in his own right.
- By contrast, the Louisville defense was its most effective on Seton Hall's guards, forcing the Pirate backcourt into a 19 percent (6-for-32) shooting night from the field. Only Mobley (5-of-8) and Teague (6-of-9) managed a .500 or better field goal percentage, with Teague's double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) keeping the streak of the Southern Illinois transfer managing double figures in those categories alive whenever we are on hand at the Prudential Center. (this was his third consecutive game that we've covered at the Rock where he ended the night with a double-double)
- With the loss, Kevin Willard is now 0-5 lifetime against his mentor Rick Pitino, for whom he served as an assistant with both the Boston Celtics and the same Louisville team that defeated the Pirates tonight. In fact, Seton Hall has only defeated Pitino twice in program history, both times coming in Newark and both times under former coach Bobby Gonzalez.
- Finally, despite the closeness of the game for most of the night, Louisville dominated all the statistics. In addition to shooting 85 percent at the free throw line, the Cardinals' bench outscored Seton Hall 17-2. Moreover, Louisville as a team bested the Pirates 22-6 in fast break points and 36-24 in the paint, while accumulating 21 points off 16 Pirate turnovers, a number Seton Hall needs to improve on when they take on a defense-oriented Providence team that nearly upset Syracuse tonight at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.