The Seton Hall Pirates needed one very big win on their tournament resume before submitting it to the committee for their dancing approval. Tonight, they recorded EXACTLY that, embarrassing the Georgetown Hoyas in Newark by a score of 73-55. Georgetown was outmatched in nearly every aspect of the game as the Pirates jumped on them in the closing minutes of the first half and cruised to a laugher in the second. Led by Jordan Theodore's career high 29 points on 8-of-11 shooting, 5 assists and 4 rebounds, the Hoyas had no answer for the senior-led team that simply needed this one more. Theodore's running mate, Herb Pope, did his part with 12 points and 6 boards, but the evening belonged to Jordan.
Tonight was easily the best I've ever seen Theodore shoot the ball, nailing a PERFECT 5-of-5 from long range, a PERFECT 8-of-8 from the stripe and even peppered a pair of beautiful pull up mid-range jumpers. It was an absolute perfect ball game from the senior who now has one foot squarely on the dance floor. As I mentioned after the loss to Cincinnati, there's no Pirate I trust more to will his team to victory than JT and we saw it again, this evening. In fact, we've seen it in three of the last four Pirate wins -- the St. John's massacre excluded.
Team basketball was on full display for the Pirates from the opening tip. The m/2/m and 2-3 looks that the Pirates threw out early were leagues better than what we saw in Cincinnati. Though a little slow to close out on 3-point attempts in the first half, the Hoyas were just hitting from ridiculous range, shots that clearly had little chance of carrying over into the second. The Hoyas drilled 4 from deep in the first and only one in second, finishing the night 5-of-15 from downtown.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Pirates made 25 buckets from the floor, 18 of which were assisted, an absolutely ridiculous statistic. The most remarkable stretch (other than Theodore turning the lights off) might have been from the 4:36 mark in the first half. Herb Pope picked up his 2nd personal foul and was relegated to the bench for the rest of the first with Seton Hall leading 25-23. Instead of the Pirates allowing Georgetown to take advantage and flip the momentum heading into the break, they buckled down and closed out on a 10-5 run to extend their lead to 7. The team responding to one of their seniors on the bench in foul trouble was the turning point in this one as it allowed the Pirates to ride their confidence straight into the second half.
Though Georgetown shot the ball pretty well over the first 3/4ths of the game, Seton Hall simply had the hotter hand. For every bucket Georgetown made to keep the deficit within reach, Seton Hall would answer with two of their own. The Pirates finished the night a SCORCHING 61% from the floor AND 61% from distance, I'd say those are absolutely two formulas for success.
The BIG EAST's steals leader, Fuquan Edwin chipped in another four swipes to go along with his 10 points and 5 rebounds. Patrik Auda in his regained starting role for Seton Hall was impressive despite a pair of missed layups in the first half. Auda's problem this evening was putting the ball on the floor. He had two clean looks for buckets, but putting the ball on the hardwood allowed his defenders to come in with pressure, altering Auda's layup attempts. This is a happy recap after all, so we'll focus the attention on Auda's strong play, recording 7 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block. Talk about well rounded play. This evening was absolutely Auda's most complete game of the season and a welcome sign as the Pirates head towards the postseason.
Despite coming off the bench for the first time in the last seven games, Brandon Mobley was impressive making 5-of-6 with his sole miss coming from behind the arc. Mobley's full offensive arsenal was on display tonight, bringing his defender out to the perimeter (although missing his attempt), a pair of mid-range jumpers and tough athletic finishes around the tin. With Auda and Mobley both playing at a high level, Kevin Willard has a phenomenal problem on his hands of who to start and who to bring off the pine. Fellow freshman, Aaron Cosby had a pair of big buckets early in the second half. First, he hit a long two that extended Seton Hall's lead to it's largest (to that point) at 9. Hollis Thompson answered with a big 3-pointer as Georgetown looked intent to hang around for the evening. Cosby immediately answered with a deep 3-pointer of his own to ensure that instead, the Hoyas would be going away, for good. Following another JT 3-pointer on Seton Hall's next possession, the Hoyas would fail to get closer than 11 in the final 17 minutes as the Pirates cruised to the finish line.
The Pirates have their dancing shoes on. The laces might be untied as of yet, but one foot is planted on the
marley hardwood, while the other looks for the courage to bust a move. After watching Theodore lead his team to a crushing defeat of Georgetown this evening, I fully expect to see a repeat performance come Saturday, on senior night, against Rutgers. After that, a date at DePaul stands in the way of the Pirates first berth since 2006. As we've been saying for weeks around these parts, one game at a time. The dance will be waiting.