Seton Hall was led by Patrik Auda (15 pts, 5 rebs), Fuquan Edwin (19 pts), and Sterling Gibbs (20 pts, 6 asts, 5 reb) en route to a 78-76 victory over Kent State that actually resembled the game of basketball we knew prior to Seton Hall vs. Niagara 2013.
And for the first 30-35 minutes, Seton Hall played much better ball than we saw against Niagara. However, Kent State flashed some of the swarming guard play that upset Temple on Monday night, nearly knocking off a turnover-susceptible Pirate team in the closing minutes.
Post-game quotes from Kevin Willard:
Willard on Sterling Gibbs, copied from Jerry Carino's game story: "Sterling definitely feels comfortable. I know I feel comfortable with him. He's playing really well. We just need to find ways to play better defensively."
Quote of the night: Willard said Patrik Auda "must have been counting in Czech" during that 5-second call. "The numbers must be much longer"— Jerry Carino (@NJHoopsHaven) November 14, 2013
Willard spoke with Gary Cohen and Dave Popkin on 970 AM (horrible reception, by the way) after the game about how Gene Teague isn't getting enough touches in the paint and credited Niagara and Kent State for preventing this. He said he is going to look at changing the lineup around to create better match ups for the trip to Mercer. He hinted at playing Brandon Mobley, who has had a slow start, more.
Kevin Willard also said that preventing dribble penetration is "killing" Seton Hall defensively. Going into tonight, I thought that this was already a strength for Kent State, based on what I saw in their upset of Temple.
Seton Hall players:
Patrik Auda on Sterling Gibbs (taken from Jerry Carino): "He kind of reminds me of when we played with Jordan Theodore. Theo always had the ball in his hands when it was a tough situation. He would be the one to take over the controls and at the end of a game. He shot a lot of free throws because he would draw fouls."
Auda on being called for a 5-second violation (taken from Brendan Prunty's game story): "I think it was kind of quick. I think it was at least two seconds more (to go). I never called a timeout since I've been here and next time I should be more aware of that."
Sterling Gibbs: "Although I didn't play (in games) last year, just playing with the guys in practice, being around and seeing how we play and how other teams play, you go into it more comfortable."
Interesting stats & notes:
- Sterling Gibbs has made 29-of-36 free throws so far this season and has attempted just 12 field goals. Going into Wednesday, Sterling was fifth in the country (however early the season) in individual free throw rate with 460 (FTA / FGA * 100), and has a 300 free throw rate (36 / 12 * 100) on the season after tonight's performance.
- Seton Hall shot 32-43 (74%) from the free throw line, noticeably improving upon their 63% (33-52) total against Niagara and initial 3-11 (27%) no-show against Caldwell in an exhibition.
- After posting a fourth best national free throw rate of 104 against Niagara, the team FT rate dropped to a still-above-average 82 against Kent State.
- Outside of Brian Oliver and Fuquan Edwin, who both shot 3-for-5 apiece, the rest of Seton Hall was 2-for-10 from beyond the arc.
- Third-choice forward Khaliq Spicer stepped in for Kent State after Mark Henniger and Melvin Tabb successively succumbed to foul trouble. The long sophomore posted 10 points (5-9), 5 boards (3 off.), and 3 blocks in 22 minutes off the bench after never scoring more than 4 points in his young career.
- Spicer's presence supported another breakout performance, this time from guard Kris Brewer. Now a junior, Brewer rattled off 28 points (9-12, 4-4 3pt, 6-6 ft), shattering his previous career high of 19 set against Temple last November. His scoring took the place of the usually active Derek Jackson (7 pts, 34 mins), who is typically Kent State's go-to scorer.