Wednesday, January 31, 2018

JP's 5 Thoughts: Seton Hall handles Providence for second straight win

Khadeen Carrington's 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting drove Seton Hall past Providence on a night where Pirates took control after 19-0 run in latter stages of first half. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

By Jason Guerette (@JPGuerette)

NEWARK, NJ -- Seton Hall returned home Wednesday night after righting their ship at DePaul over the weekend. That followed a bye week, so it’s been quite a while since they last took the floor at the Prudential Center. With a 73-57 win, the Pirates moved to 6-3 in the Big East and broke a tie with the visiting Providence in the league standings, ahead of a huge tilt with Villanova on Sunday.

Here are tonight's thoughts:

1. A Case Of The Run

This game was nip and tuck through the first 12 minutes or so, with Providence holding a 19-17 edge at the 8:33 mark of the first half. Then came the run that changed the game, a 19-0 thunderbolt by the Pirates that allowed them to take a firm grip on the contest and never let go. It started with four straight threes by Myles Powell, Khadeen Carrington (twice) and Desi Rodriguez. After the third of those, Ed Cooley called timeout, but it did nothing to stem the tide, as newly-minted Big East Chairman of the Boards Angel Delgado and Rodriguez scored the final seven points in the run. Providence in that span was all out of sorts, missing shots badly, and turning the ball over a couple times.

It gave the fans in attendance a tantalizing glimpse into just how good the Pirates can be when they are clicking. By the end of the run, everyone in the building was standing and cheering wildly.

2. Threes And ‘D’

The first half (thanks in part to that huge 19-0 run) was one of the best defensive halves Seton Hall has played this season, in fact, the Pirates' lowest point total given up in the first half all year. They held the Friars to 26 points on 33 percent shooting, and held point guard Kyron Cartwright (the key to the Friars’ offense) without a single point or assist.

But it continued into the second half as well. Coming in, Providence had Rodney Bullock (16.0), Alpha Diallo (11.9), Cartwright (11.6) and Jalen Lindsey (10.3) averaging double figures in scoring. Diallo finished with 25, but the other three had just 10 between them, all by Bullock as Lindsey and Cartwright went scoreless, with the latter going 0-for-9 from the floor with only two assists.

Aside from the fantastic defense, Seton Hall found their stroke from deep on their home floor again, going 9-for-21 from beyond the arc. After shooting 26 percent (21-for-81) from the great beyond in their losing stretch before the bye week, the Pirates have now shot 46 percent (17-for 37) in their last two wins. With a big body like Delgado inside and a transition game that’s deadly, when the Pirates add made shots to that, they’re an awfully tough squad to handle.

3. Pristine Khadeen

This was also one of the best games Khadeen Carrington had played all year. The senior had a remarkably efficient night with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting and 3-of-7 from three, along with seven assists, a trio of steals and just one turnover. It was Carrington’s early offense that kept the Pirates close before the big run, and he kept it up the rest of the way.

I just made this point about the team as a whole, but the linchpin to that point has to be Carrington, who in his transition to lead guard has struggled at times with his own shot this year.

“It’s great to see him knocking his shots down (again),” senior forward Ismael Sanogo said afterwards. “If he’s knocking his shots down, teams have to press up (on defense) and he’s a great facilitator. It makes our team that much better.”

4. Complete Game

This was a great performance all around for the Pirates. They had balance (with four and nearly all five starters in double figures), they had what I call “spurtability” (with that 19-0 run that threw the entire momentum of the crowd their way), they had defense, they had the transition game working, and they played unselfish basketball with nearly as many assists (19, on 28 baskets) as Providence had field goals (22).

Coming off a bounce-back win at DePaul and with Villanova looming, this was an underrated big game in Newark to try and keep things going in the right direction. They also came in with an identical Big East record (5-3) as Providence.

“It was very important,” Sanogo said of the magnitude of the game tonight. “Not only because we have a big game on Sunday, but also we came in tied with Providence and now we move up to sole possession of fourth place or something like that, so it was a very big deal.”

“Coach came in telling us that this was a big game for the standings,” Powell said. “And in March, when they’re making our seed, this is the type of game they look at. He just kept expressing that this was an important game and we can’t worry about Sunday before we get this one.”

5. Into The Wildcats Den (Sort Of)

Now once again, we have Seton Hall and Villanova locking horns for the first time this season. This time, unlike last time and every time before that, the Pirates will play a true road game against the Wildcats at a place not named The Pavilion, as the game will take place Super Bowl Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center, home of the Flyers and 76ers, due to renovations being made at the normal site.

Thank goodness for that, as the on-campus arena at Villanova has been THE House of Horrors for the Hall -- they haven’t won a single game there since P.J. Carlesimo was on the sidelines and Bill Clinton was President of the United States. It may be a small thing relative to the game itself, but the Pirates could definitely use all the edges they can get against the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, even if they; more than any other Big East foe, have given the Wildcats a stiff test over the last four years or so.

That being said, it’s great that the Pirates were able to win tonight, but it’s even better to win the way they did tonight, with a team-wide great effort on both ends.

“I think it’s great for our seniors, for our confidence boost,” Powell said of this being the ideal way to go into a game against Villanova. “Now we can just focus on ‘Nova, what they have (in store) for us, and prepare to give them our best shot.”

“This was one of the best wins we had all year,” Delgado said. “When you win (on the road) and you have someone coming at you at home, you have to protect your house. We needed this win. Going to Villanova with two wins on our shoulders, it’s great. It’s good to have momentum, and that’s what we have to keep going.”

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