-It wasn't always pretty, but the Pirates will gladly put this W in their pocket and head to Cincinnati on New Year's Eve with a 1-0 BIG EAST record. After putting up just 26 points through the first twenty minutes, the Pirates finally protected a second half lead, piling on 38 in the final frame, sending USF out of the snow with the loss.
-Kevin Willard's 2-3 zone in the half-court stymied the Bulls for much of the first half as they were held to 30% shooting over the course of the first frame. USF was able to make adjustments and found a few better looks in the second, finishing the night at a 40% clip. After Seton Hall baskets, the Bulls had little trouble breaking the Pirates 2-2-1 zone full court press throughout the night. Almost on cue, as I was tweeting for Seton Hall to call it off, EP was able to come away with a steal in the second half due to the formation. Nevertheless, one turnover on the night isn't particularly worth the tradeoff as the Bulls were able to set up open looks and get to the line as the Pirates often found themselves chasing their opponent in transition defense.
-Herb Pope showed up in the second half tonight. After failing to score in the first, Pope finished with just his second double-double (12PTS/13REB) of the year, including sinking 4 CLUTCH FTs in the final four minutes of action. Excellent game from Herb tonight against USF's bigs and this play is going to have to continue should the Pirates expect to compete in the BIG EAST this season.
Reggie Miller Jeff Robinson attempted five 3-PT attempts tonight. That's not a typo. He hit one. Do the number of attempts or results surprise anyone? Doubtful. It's really a shame to address this in each postgame writeup as Robinson is such a solid player inside the arc. Late in the ballgame, Jeff Robinson drew two HUGE charges on Jawanza Poland which really secured the Pirates lead as the Bulls were surging. He finished with another 15PT performance (6th of 15PTS+) and remains Seton Hall's most consistent player. The only flaw in his game remains his propensity to shoot the long ball and it's unlikely that it'll stop anytime soon in conference play. We've got to take it for what it is. JRob is still a tremendous player, nonetheless. Yes, I sound very defeated.
-Despite turning the ball over 4 times, Jordan Theodore was impressive with his ball distribution. He finished with 11PTS/4AST/4TO on 5-of-8 shooting. He really should have tallied 5AST/3TO, but a nifty dime found a unsuspecting Patrik Auda who was unable to get a grip on the ball and Theodore was charged with the error.
-True to form for the season, Fuquan Edwin contributed 11PTS/3STL/2REB tonight. It was his 5th game where he totaled double-digits and 2 or more steals. There's no doubt Edwin is forming into a complete player and it's an absolute joy to watch the kid in Pirate blue on a nightly basis.
-I find it hard to believe that I'm saying this on a night where he missed another open layup, but I believe it's time to make Keon Lawrence the starting #2. Lawrence had a SOLID game tonight. Willard rode Keon for most of the second half and kept his senior on the floor in crunch time. We know Keon brings solid defense night-in and night-out, but tonight, he showed a bit more. He hit a 3PT attempt for his third consecutive game (3-of-5 in that stretch), hit 3-of-7 of his field goal attempts, and added 2REB/2AST/2STL/BLK with 0 turnovers on the night while draining 3-of-4 from the stripe. With the Pirates leading by five and less than a minute remaining, he ran the shot-clock down to singe digits before finishing a TOUGH left handed layup, icing the game for Seton Hall. Yes, Keon Lawrence iced a game for Seton Hall. Admittedly, I'm on a bit of a Keon Lawrence high right now. Still, consider that Jamel Jackson has been largely non-existent the last three games and I'm expecting Keon to get a shot at the starting gig starting Friday at Cincinnati.
Full box score, here. And of course, JP's Five Thoughts will be here tomorrow at noon.