Providence stands in way of Seton Hall’s first Big East title berth since 1993

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After soaking up a historic win in a raucous Seton Hall locker room after knocking off No. 3 Villanova yesterday afternoon, associate head coach Shaheen Holloway was ready to talk business.

"We're trying to see if we can get another win and then a Big East Championship. We came here for four games."

Seton Hall is half of the way to that goal following a win over a top-three ranked opponent for the first time in their history after failing to do so thirty times prior. The Pirates railed against all odds to reach the Big East Tournament semifinals for the first time since 2001: A 10.5-point spread, just 15 hours of recovery from the end of their 51-50 win over Butler until tip-off with Villanova at noon yesterday, a 1-12 record against Villanova dating back to 2004, and a two-year Big East win streak drought were all turned upside down by a resilient Seton Hall.

"Wow. That's all I can say, wow. These kids played their hearts out. They gave their all. The locker room was so full of emotion after the game. The seniors, I'm so happy for those guys," said Holloway on AM 970 post-game.

Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard knew it would be tough to get by Butler on Wednesday, but had faith in his team to do damage prior to clashing with Villanova yesterday. "We know we can play with anybody. If we can win today, two more is not out of the question," he stated Thursday morning. Holloway agrees. "If you look at the Big East, that's how it's been the whole year for everybody ... If you can put a game together for 40 minutes, you've got a chance in this league with anyone."

The Hall knocked off top-seeded Villanova, now two more is the question if Seton Hall wants to go Dancing.

Providence and Seton Hall split their season series by winning on the opposite team's home court. The Pirates knocked off the Friars in double overtime at the Dunk on New Year's Eve without the services of Gene Teague, who was still recovering from his concussion, and Aaron Geramipoor, who reinjured his sprained ankle early in the game. Providence won in Newark after pulling away midway through the second half as Seton Hall played without Fuquan Edwin, who sat out with a sprained thumb that he sustained at DePaul.

Tonight, Seton Hall will have a full compliment of players when they butt heads with bubble-stricken Providence, who sit firmly on the fringe of the NCAA tournament. The Pirates may have heavy legs late in the game, but for at least one player, that might be a good thing.

"Some guys play better with the flu, that's what Michael Jordan did. [Laughs] Hopefully that's what Gene Teague is doing," joked Shaheen Holloway yesterday.

Flu or not, Teague's production (14 pts, 8 rebs; 19 pts, 12 rebs) has been phenomenal and he has undeniably been the driving force of Seton Hall's offense in Madison Square Garden. Teague should feature again tonight after scoring 17 points and pulling down 7 rebounds (5 offensive) against Providence exactly two weeks ago. Sterling Gibbs, who gained all sorts of notoriety for his buzzer-beater yesterday, has played well against Bryce Cotton in both meetings including an efficient 20-point (6-9 fg) showing at Prudential Center.

Seton Hall will need to be conscious of shooting guard Josh Fortune after he went 4-7 from beyond the arc for a game-high 24 points against St. John's yesterday. Fortune was held to eight points, his lowest scoring output over his last seven games, in Newark.

Dating back to 2001, Seton Hall has defeated Providence in both Big East Tournament meetings between the schools. This is the Friars' first appearance in the semifinals since 1997.

Last 10 meetings (SHU 6-4):

Feb. 28, 2014, Providence 74, Seton Hall 69, Newark, N.J.
Dec. 31, 2013, SETON HALL 81, Providence 80 (2ot), Providence, R.I.
March 5, 2013, Providence, 76, Seton Hall 66, Providence, R.I.
Jan. 13, 2013, Providence 67, Seton Hall 55, Newark, N.J.
March 6, 2012, SETON HALL 79, Providence 47, New York, N.Y.
Jan. 7, 2012, SETON HALL 66, Providence 57, Providence, R.I.
Jan. 30, 2011, SETON HALL 81, Providence 71, Newark, N.J.
March 9, 2010, SETON HALL 109, Providence 106, New York, N.Y.
March 6, 2010, SETON HALL 92, Providence 80, Providence, R.I.
Jan. 22, 2009, Providence 98, SETON HALL 93 (ot), Newark, N.J.

KenPom says: No. 49 Providence - 70, No. 85 Seton Hall - 67 (38%)
Projected Providence starters:

6-1 Sr., G - Bryce Cotton
6-5 So., G - Josh Fortune
6-6 Jr., F - LaDontae Henton
6-9 So., F - Tyler Harris
6-9 Sr., F - Kadeem Batts

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports 1

Radio: AM 970

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