For the second time in three visits to Allstate Arena, Seton Hall (14-14, 5-10) put on a less-than-expected performance against an upset-minded DePaul (11-18, 3-13) team. The "lackadaisical" and borderline nonchalant showing gave Seton Hall a nine-point deficit at the half that they ultimately couldn't overcome after the break, falling 65-60 late Tuesday night in Chicago.
"We were obviously a little emotionally spent. We got off to a quick start and sometimes it bites you on the road a little bit ... we got a little lackadaisical," admitted Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard on AM 970 post-game. "They made some tough shots early, I thought we played decent defense early on, then I thought we started breaking down. I thought at 26-20 we left Forrest Robinson, trying to switch on him and that got it to 29-20 and got them feeling good about themselves again. Once the zone kind of stifled that a little bit, we were able to get some steals, get some easy buckets, but we just couldn't get a stop. At 60-60 [Durrell] McDonald hits that at the buzzer, a really tough one from deep."
The Forrest Robinson three-pointer that Willard mentioned was the first of two made threes by the forward. The play that Willard references (failure to switch) was actually Robinson's second made three (unless Seton Hall failed to switch on both) that gave DePaul a 34-26 lead which was then followed by a missed Brandon Mobley jumper and another DePaul basket. The shot Robinson hit to give DePaul a 29-20 lead was simply Mobley not being in Robinson's face along the perimeter.
DePaul shot 50% (6-12) from downtown, 65% (15-23) from inside the arc and 94% (17-18) from the charity stripe, all way above their season averages. The Blue Demons took advantage of a 13-13 to 1-2 free throw shooting advantage over Seton Hall in the second half.
"We didn't play with the same energy on the offensive end, we were a little passive, I don't want to say nonchalant, but we didn't play with the same crispness we played with at Creighton. It's a tough loss. On the road you gotta play some defense and you've got to defend the three and we didn't defend the three and we didn't play defense."
Seton Hall captain Fuquan Edwin had to leave the game briefly to have his thumb taped after swatting at the ball in the lane on defense. Edwin returned immediately but missed two triples and turned the ball over once during the remaining six minutes of play.
"He lost that pass on the curl, he said he felt alright, you gotta trust your best player to go [back] in there. We had 12 assists, 11 turnovers, we popped the ball so well the other night. We had some bad shots when we were up, we took three really bad shots in a row and they got a big and-one, we were up six and they came down and got an and-one."
DePaul's only and-one on the night came from Billy Garrett Jr. to cut Seton Hall's 50-44 lead in half, but it came after three made Seton Hall shots in a row. Willard was likely referencing the three missed jumpers plus two turnovers on the five Seton Hall possessions that followed Garrett's three-point play.
"Not being able to get that stop when we needed it gave them a little momentum and we took a couple bad threes, had a couple turnovers, rushed turnovers, and that kinda hurt us. To feel so good about your team after Creighton and to have such a let down is tough, but we've got to bounce back. We've got two home games, three games left, we've got to bounce back and get back to being a little bit crisper on offense and obviously playing a little better defense."
Late in the game with Seton Hall trailing by three, Jaren Sina found himself fairly open on the perimeter but opted to hand the ball off to Fuquan Edwin. Sina was 4-4 from long range at that point and had just sunk a three-pointer a few possessions prior.
"He's a freshman going against a senior. Brandon Young's a senior, he's a freshman, I thought he [Sina] played terrific again tonight. We're still working with him. When you make a jump to the highest level you've got to be patient, you've got to live through some mistakes. I finally thought he did a good job of saying ‘I've got to shoot the basketball'. You just can't let guys go underneath you and play soft on you. I thought he did a good job of finally saying ‘Hey, I'm going to shoot the basketball.' We've got to get him in the lane a little bit where he can jump-stop and find guys a little bit more. He still doesn't have that part [of his game], but he's working on it, as smart of a kid as he is and as hard as he works, he'll get it."
Seton Hall shooting guard Brian Oliver finished his third straight game with just three points after being suspended for the most recent St. John's game. Oliver consistently finds himself well guarded and has yet to find his stroke post-suspension, shooting 2-7 from three-point land.
"I think everyone is game-planning for Brian. He's such a weapon and he shoots the basketball so well. We actually had him a couple times, we got him open and we threw one pass that took him out of a three, another pass got deflected to him where he would have had an open look. He had an open look in the first half, had a good look. Yeah it's tough, it's frustrating to him, because guys are just face-guarding him not leaving him, leaving him when he comes off screens and people are helping [off the screens]. He's just got to be a little bit more patient and sometimes it's tough because shooters want to shoot ... He'll work through it."
After playing to a one-point loss at Creighton without lead guard Sterling Gibbs, one would think that his return to the team last night would have been an automatic boost. However, Gibbs was unable to find his rhythm at guard after coming off the bench in the first half and scored just three points in 13 minutes.
"I was hoping he'd play good, I was hoping he'd come in, we were playing well offensively. I think he had a couple early opportunities, on the break he had an opportunity if he could have put that in he would have eased himself off a little bit, then he missed his two free throws ... But it was good to have him back, good to have him out there. It's one of those things, we've got to get everybody playing in the same sandbox, playing together. When we do, we're really good, when we don't, we struggle and we kinda had some of that again tonight and we have to figure it out, we will."
Interesting stats and notes:
Gene Teague failed to secure a single rebound in 24 minutes of action while Brandon Mobley, Patrik Auda, and Aaron Geramipoor combined for 7 boards in 55 minutes on the court. Seton Hall pulled down just three offensive boards (12%) on the night, an accurate reflection of their league-worst 21.8% offensive rebounding percentage.
Seton Hall assisted on 12 of 24 made shots (50% ARate) after posting assist rates of 64% and 74% against Creighton and Georgetown, respectively. This is part of the crispness Kevin Willard was referencing.
Sterling Gibbs was 0-2 from the line and Seton Hall 5-11 from the charity stripe while DePaul finished shooting at a 94% clip (17-18), 25 percentage points above their average. Gibbs is now shooting 62.6% (52/83) from the free throw line in the Big East after going 99/127 (77.9%) prior to league play.
DePaul's bench combined for 5 defensive rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, and 0-3 shooting from the floor.