Seton Hall Basketball: Final - Seton Hall 81, Providence 71 - Pirate Forwards Punish Providence

Seton Hall Pirates forward Herb Pope (15) slams one home at the Seton Hall vs Providence mens basketball game at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ 1/30/11 (William Perlman-The Star-Ledger)

Herb Pope threw down an emotional slam as time expired that capped off a dominant performance by the Pirate front-court. Pope and his wingman, Jeff Robinson, combined for 43 points, 16 rebounds and 4 blocks. On a day where Jeremy Hazell was hungover from an intoxicating performance at the Carrier Dome, the Pirate forwards led the charge.

The Pirates surged to a double digit lead eleven minutes into the game and didn't look back until the closing minutes. Seton Hall did not play sexy basketball, but they were effective for most of the game. They held a 17:5 TO margin until sloppy play ensued down the stretch. Additionally, the team accumulated 18 assists and shot 18 for 22 from the free throw line, good enough for 81.8%.

Seton Hall flirted with a blowout throughout the middle third of the game, including a sixteen point half time lead. The lead was casually held in the mid-teens until Providence came storming back in the last 5 minutes. The Friars forced turnovers and converted them into points, something that had been non-existent for the first 35 minutes. I'm probably not the first person who started thinking 2010 Big East Tournament. Its odd how a 10 point Seton Hall lead feels like a one possession game... Must be the side effects of Gonzo Ball.

Aside from the forward play, the back court play from Seton Hall was quietly efficient. Jeremy Hazell produced a career high assist total (7),  partially making up for his poor shooting performance (3-12, 0-7) which resulted in only ten points. Jordan Theodore and Keon Lawrence combined for 21 points, 10 assists and 5 turnovers. Most importantly, Theodore only had 1 of those five turnovers, something that I had been looking for before the game.

Once again, Seton Hall played balanced (five players in double figures) and efficient in many aspects of the game (FT shooting, assists, turnovers). The only thing that held this team back from running away with the game was a lackluster day from beyond the arc (3 for 18). Its good to know that this team can win without relying on the three ball.

Providence was one of the hottest teams in the conference, but any viewer could not deduce such a statement from today's game. Seton Hall frustrated a Friar team that had been the frustrater of late.

Jeremy Hazell shouted "I'm Back" during Seton Hall's romp of Syracuse - he put on a show. I swore could see Kevin Willard mouthing "We're Back" while Herb Pope pounded his chest as time expired - the team put on a show.

Assorted Observations:

- As expected, the Canarias Basketball Academy was behind the Seton Hall bench for the game. Anyone else think that motivated Kevin Willard to insert Patrik Auda and Aaron Geramipoor into the game so quickly?

- Speaking of Auda, it looks like he is partially recovered from his toe injury, at least enough to see some 7th man minutes.

- Was the crowd quiet, or was it me? I know its a Sunday afternoon game between two religious schools, but come on people, the Prudential Center is NOT a church. The place wasn't empty, but I expected a lot more noise from the amount of people that were in attendance. This is what happens when you are fresh off a Villanova - Georgetown game like I am, you knock the crowd.

- Duke Mondy stole the rock with :10 to play and scored a quick two as Seton Hall thought there was a mutual "dribble the clock out" agreement. Similar to last season's Seton Hall - Rutgers match-up at the Rock, Herb Pope likes to end the game on a positive note. Seton Hall quickly inbounded the ball and fed Herb Pope on the block who threw one down with :02 remaining. Pope threw in a few chest pounds for good measure. Good for you, Herb! 

- I can't confirm because of a blurry ESPN3.com feed, but Jeremy Hazell was supposed to play without the cast he had been wearing underneath his protective wrist guard. He did so against Syracuse, so I'm assuming he played without it again.

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