Seton Hall (7-3) defeated neighboring NJIT (6-5) in front of a scarce crowd late Tuesday, 71-55, securing their third victory of four intrastate opponents. Apparently a handful of students/fans made the short trip from Summit Street and did their best to rival the Pirate faithful in both noise and excitement. We could start the annual discussion of whether it's possible to host more non-conference on campus in Walsh Gymnasium, or we could just look the other way. In any event, I digress.
Throughout the first 15 minutes, the Highlanders managed to control the momentum in a game that started out eerily similar to the FDU disaster. Gene Teague was steadily cleaning glass and appeared well on his way to getting just about anything he desired over a NJIT small frontline. However, for unknown reasons, the Pirates failed to make a concentrated effort to get him involved for much of the night.
There was a stretch early in the game where I counted 4 consecutive possessions where Teague didn't even receive a touch. He had four shot attempts over the first THIRTY-THREE minutes as the team seemed content with using their superior athleticism and 3-point shooting instead of feeding the big man. This can not happen and especially with Auda and Edwin out, the offense needs to run through Teague to open up their inside-out game with Teague, Sterling Gibbs, and their roster of 3-point shooters. Seton Hall managed to nurse a 3-point lead heading into intermission, though their opening play was anything but convincing. If Teague was allowed to eat, this game would have likely been a laugher, yet it nearly got away from the Pirates as the Highlanders closed a significant second half deficit to 5 points with 5 minutes to play.
The second half saw the Pirates shed their zone in favor of a man-to-man defense, which instantly flustered the Highlanders execution and the Pirates began to take control. A 12-0 run gave the Pirates a 13-point lead they would not relinquish over the final 13 minutes. It's tough to make much out of the questionable Teague usage after the Pirates won by double digits, but he's capable of contributing so much more when there's an effort to feed him the ball. Let him eat. Instead of, "Feed the Teague!," the rallying cry may soon be changing to, "Free the Teague!"
Stay tuned for more game analysis to follow Wednesday morning from Chris McManus.