Set back from the start due to a lineup left devastated from injuries and suspensions, DePaul (10-11, 2-6) never really had a chance against Seton Hall (12-8, 3-4). Pirate captain Fuquan Edwin made sure of it.
Heeding the words of head coach Kevin Willard, who stressed that Seton Hall needed to come out aggressive against the Blue Demons, Edwin set the tone by scoring 12 of the Pirates' first 17 and 19 of their first 29 points en route to a 22-point first half domination from the senior wing. Fuquan, who finished with a cool 30 points on 16 shots, was lethal in transition, unstoppable driving to the tin, and even stroked back-to-back three-pointers that gave Seton Hall an early nine-point lead.
A DePaul defense that came into the game ranked last in the Big East in adjusted defensive efficiency was left completely exposed due to absences in the Blue Demons' starting lineup. Starters Cleveland Melvin (suspension prior to game), point guard Billy Garrett Jr. (flu), and Charles McKinney (ankle) were all absent for DePaul, with rotation player Jamee Crockett (indefinite suspension) also sidelined. Adding to their woes, starting center Tommy Hamilton IV (bruised sternum) was a gametime decision. As a result, Edwin and Seton Hall shredded a DePaul starting lineup that included walk-on Edwind McGhee, who had only attempted four field goals on the season, and DeJuan Marrero, who had played just 83 minutes.
Seton Hall came out flying, but plateaued during the middle portion of the first half, allowing DePaul to creep within five at the 6:46 mark before an Aaron Geramipoor (8 pts, 3 rebs) bucket infused a crippling 23-8 Seton Hall run to close the half, effectively putting the game out of reach.
Any small glimmer of hope that DePaul held onto at the half was squeezed out of them by way of three personal fouls in the first eight seconds of the second half, two of which were before the ball was inbounded. Then, as the shot clock was expiring on Seton Hall's first second half possession, Fuquan Edwin banked in a contested three-pointer in Hazellian fashion for his 23rd, 24th, and 25th points on the night. With the tone once again set by Edwin, Seton Hall maintained a ~20-point lead for most of the second half, save a 9-0 DePaul run that was squelched by a Gene Teague (9 pts, 4 rebs) basket with 11:03 to play.
Despite a few patches of low-intensity basketball in the second half, Seton Hall stayed on cruise control until The CBA Boys, Haralds Karlis (4 pts), Patrik Auda (9 pts, 6 rebs, 5 asts), and Aaron Geramipoor, took control of the wheel and displayed a flurry of impressive offensive moves to the basket that resulted in several rim-threatening slams. With the game well in hand, Geramipoor and Auda made DePaul's inability to continue defending stick out.
Since most of the second half is classified as 'low-leverage' basketball, any strategic weight needs to be put into Seton Hall's first half performance. Despite facing a depleted DePaul lineup, the Pirates, spurred on by Fuquan Edwin, acted upon Kevin Willard's battle cry of starting more aggressive. Edwin's supporting cast of Sterling Gibbs (6 pts, 7 rebs, 5 asts) and Brian Oliver (7 pts, 3 asts, 2 stls) did well to supplement Fu's production with steals, key baskets, and most importantly, desire.
On the negative side of things, it looks as though Brandon Mobley (6 pts, 10 mins) is in the middle of a slump, and Gene Teague may be a game or two away from achieving near 100-percent fitness.
The win moves Seton Hall one game from .500 in the Big East with a 'white out' game against last place Butler looming on Wednesday at Prudential Center.