After ultimately coming up short in an impressive 72-71 loss at Creighton on Sunday, Seton Hall is looking to spark a late season run by winning at DePaul tonight.
Seton Hall (14-13, 5-9) is expected to receive a boost from the suspended Sterling Gibbs after he flew to Chicago to meet up with the team late on Sunday night. Gibbs will join a Pirate team that will face a very different looking DePaul (10-18, 2-13) squad than the one he and his teammates saw a month ago. Leading scorer Cleveland Melvin, a former Seton Hall recruiting target who was suspended prior to DePaul's game at Prudential Center, has since left the school and is no longer with the team.
In more positive news for the Blue Demons, three players that missed the first meeting with Seton Hall are back in action for head coach Oliver Purnell: Billy Garrett Jr. (12.3 ppg, 3.2 apg), Jamee Crockett (3.6 ppg), and Charles McKinney (4.3 ppg, 1.1 spg). Garrett Jr., who received Big East Rookie of the Week honors on Monday for the fifth time this season (17 pts, 5 ast vs Xavier, 26 pts vs Marquette), was forced to watch DePaul's game at the Rock from a hospital due to an episode from sickle cell. Crockett was in the midst of what turned out to be a 10-game absence due to suspension and a bout with mononucleosis when DePaul traveled to Jersey -- Crockett has seen just over 15 mpg in four games since returning. McKinney missed the January matchup due to an ankle injury but has since returned to the Blue Demon rotation (13 mpg over last six).
An interesting quirk of the walk-on laden lineup that Oliver Purnell was forced to field at Prudential Center is R.J. Curington (4.1 ppg). Curington saw just 23 total minutes over his freshman season prior to playing 23 and scoring 15 points in Newark. Riding momentum, Curington then scored 22 points in 30 minutes of action in his next game against Providence en route to being selected Big East Rookie of the Week. Curington went on to score 10 points in 29 minutes on the same day he received the Big East honor, but has since played just 8.5 mpg including a DNP against Marquette this Saturday.
Joining R.J. Curington in boosted minutes over the last month is 6-10 Forrest Robinson. The center played just 56 minutes this season prior to DePaul's trip to New Jersey, but has played 16 mpg since, including two double-digit point totals and 30 minutes played against Marquette this past weekend. Robinson (3.4 ppg, 1.5 rpg) joins a Cleveland Melvin-less stable of front court players in 6-10 Tommy Hamilton IV (8 ppg, 5.2 rpg), 6-10 Sandi Marcius (5.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1 bpg), and 6-9 Greg Sequele (1.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg), all four of whom average over 9 mpg. Like his freshman counterpart Tommy Hamilton (17-47 3pt), Forrest Robinson is capable of stepping outside and hitting three-pointers. Robinson has shot 12-27 (44%) from beyond the arc, including a 4-9 showing against Xavier, in the seven games since last playing Seton Hall.
Putting aside all of the moving pieces, Billy Garrett Jr.'s return to form is the most important to focus on. Garrett Jr. provides a second scoring option in DePaul's backcourt to compliment the omnipotent Brandon Young (15.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.7 spg), who is now the Blue Demon's leading scorer. If Garrett Jr. can produce at the clip that he showed last week, DePaul is much more of a threat, as seen on Saturday when his 26 points propelled DePaul to overtime against Marquette.
While DePaul undeniably played well against Marquette, the showing was one of only two final score margins that saw the Blue Demons lose by less than 10 points over the course of their current 10-game losing streak. DePaul has lost by an average of 15.1 points during the streak and hasn't really come close to winning (outside of Marquette), unless a 3-point second half deficit against Creighton, a brief second half lead against Georgetown, or a late 2-point deficit against Providence nearly a month ago count. DePaul ranks last in Big East play in 11 of 20 major offensive/defensive KenPom categories and no higher than third in any of the same categories. The Blue Demons are ranked sub-230 in the nation in 12 of the same 20 categories, not including their 217th adjusted defensive efficiency. While their adjusted tempo ranks 87th in the nation, DePaul plays quicker than any other school in the conference.
This game is a must-win for any hopes of Seton Hall finishing in the top 6 of the Big East (first round bye in conference tournament) to remain alive. A 4-0 finish coupled with a few friendly results around the league would set Seton Hall up nicely for a first round bye. More on this later in the week if Seton Hall wins tonight, which you should know by now is far from a given.
Series history (SHU 10-3):
Jan. 25, 2014, SETON HALL 86, DePaul 69, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 2, 2013, DePaul 72, SETON HALL 73, Rosemont, Ill.
Mar. 3,, 2012, DePaul 86, SETON HALL 58, Rosemont, Ill.
Jan. 10, 2012, SETON HALL 94, DePaul 73, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 12, 2011, SETON HALL 78, DePaul 67, Rosemont, Ill.
Feb. 14, 2010, SETON HALL 79, DePaul 71, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 10, 2009, SETON HALL 72, DePaul 49, Rosemont, Ill.
Feb. 23, 2008, SETON HALL 73, DePaul 71, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 25, 2006, DePaul 67, SETON HALL 64, Rosemont, Ill.
Dec. 27, 2003, SETON HALL 76, DePaul 62, East Rutherford, N.J.
Dec. 28, 2002, DePaul 52, SETON HALL 41, Rosemont, Ill.
Dec. 29, 1988, SETON HALL 83, DePaul 60, New Orleans, La.
Feb. 25, 1942, SETON HALL 36, DePaul 33, South Orange, N.J.
KenPom says: No. 74 Seton Hall - 74, No. 167 DePaul - 72 (59%)
Projected DePaul starters:
6-5 Fr., G - Billy Garrett Jr.
6-4 Sr., G - Brandon Young
6-3 Jr., G/F - Charles McKinney
6-10 Fr., F - Tommy Hamilton IV
6-10 Sr., C - Sandi Marcius
When: Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: 970 AM