Paced by three career highs by the Paterson Catholic duo, Fuquan Edwin (points) and Jordan Theodore (assists and points), the 24th ranked Seton Hall Pirates made easy work of an awful shooting DePaul club, defeating the Blue Demons 94-73 on Tuesday night. Of course, the Pirates 2-3 defense did their part, but an off (short for awful) night from the floor had just as much to do with the 34% clip Oliver Purnell's team put forth this evening. The high powered Pirates offense was just six points shy from dropping a Hundi, yet managed just one bucket between 15:30 and 7:14 in the second half. During that stretch, DePaul stunned the napping Pirates; stringing together a 17-2 run that saw them pull within 9 points late in the ballgame.
Once again, it was the senior captain who decided he had seen enough. Theodore hit a mid-range jumper to push the lead back to 11 which he followed with another jumper, a made 3-pointer and a pair of free throws. Ball game. The 16-point cushion with under 5 minutes remaining effectively killed any false hope DePaul had gained and the Pirates cruised to a 21-point victory. A 21-point victory which should have been 30-plus, but who's going to nitpick a blow out? When things got out of control for a minute (or eight) in the second half, Kevin Willard corralled his troops, ironed out the wrinkles and got back to basics. In his press conference he suggested the guys were, "trying to put up some numbers" when the game was out of reach. You hate to see sloppy play at any point, but it's more understandable considering the game was out of reach for nearly 20 minutes. We won't dwell on it.
Seton Hall did what they had to do; wasting no time in taking care of an inferior opponent. With the victory, the Pirates remain undefeated at home (10-0) before embarking on a two-game road trip to USF and Villanova; completely winnable road games. Why wouldn't they be winnable? Your Seton Hall Pirates are in sole possession of second place in the Big East conference.
Follow the jump for tonight's player analysis.
One game after tying his career high, Fuquan Edwin matched that output by halftime. Unfortunately, he only added four in the second half, but he still ended his night with an ultra-efficient 10-of-14 from the floor including another 4-of-5 from deep. For the second time in two games, he finished just short of a double-double with 28pts/9reb/3ast/2stl. Many have suggested Edwin is one of the better defenders in the nation. True, but I believe he's one of the better players in the Big East, as well. Not bad for the sophomore who continues to raise his game to unbelievable levels.
In addition to cementing the game for the Pirates late in the second half, Jordan Theodore set career highs in both points and assists compiling a stat line of 26pts/11ast/3stl as he matched his PC alum with 10-of-14 shooting. Willard suggested after the game that Jordan Theodore might not be one of the best players in the country, he may be one of the best players. Period. Coach may have a point. A couple of CBS Writers (Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman) voted Jordan Theodore onto their Wooden Midseason ballots this afternoon.
Herb Pope recorded his second consecutive double-double (11pts/13reb/2blk/2stl) in just 28 minutes of play tonight. Kevin Willard made a point to keep Pope fresh as he sat the big fella early and often with Aaron Geramipoor (8min/3reb) getting into the game twice within the first ten minutes of action. Once again, Herb Pope was double teamed throughout the night, found himself in foul trouble (4PF) and only managed to convert on 5-of-10 attempts which came on four layups and a banked in, top of the key, three-pointer. Pope impressed in the first half with back-to-back possessions where he displayed his full arsenal. First, Pope penetrated from the perimeter, used a spin move and finished against his defender. Then, before DePaul could advance the ball to half court, he came away with the steal, dribbled right down the lane and converted a layup for two more.
As noted in prior game recaps, frosh Aaron Cosby is becoming as dependable behind the arc as just about anyone on the team, making good on another 3-of-7 attempts. Cosby even hit a pair from inside the perimeter and a pair of throws to finish with 15 points and ANOTHER career high for the Pirates. Between Cosby, Edwin and Theodore, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect 8-to-10 to fall from distance every night, certainly a formula for winning basketball.
A couple bad looks this evening:
1) The crowd. Seton Hall is ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in eleven years and it's empty for player introductions and well, just about all night? The team deserves better than that. As my colleague Robert tweeted, "don't be pumpkins," and complain about 7pm weekday starts, get out to The Rock. This is a special team, outperforming just about everyone's expectations, let's show them the support that they deserve.
2) Haralds Karlis. Struggling to get playing time, he sees the floor for the final two minutes of garbage time with his team up 20 points and he responds by hanging on the rim and drawing a technical? Are you kidding? Surely, Kevin Willard will make sure that never happens again.
The Pirates are next in action Friday night against the South Florida Bulls. As long as they keep winning ball games, there's only one place they'll go in the Top 25 - up. Of course, there is that other poll too. One that I feel the players care little about. They know how good they are, if others are sleeping, their loss. They're missing out on some good, Seton Hall, basketball.