Survive and advance.
Seton Hall clung to the narrowest of leads while clamping down on a Butler team looking for their first ever Big East Tournament win last night, prevailing 51-50. The prize? A date with top-seeded Villanova less than 15 hours later.
After scoring 20 of Butler's first 28 points and finishing with 29 on Saturday (7-7 3pt), Butler sharpshooter Kellen Dunham was held to 4 points on 2-10 shooting at Madison Square Garden last night.
"Our main goal coming into this game was to make sure Dunham didn't get any shots off. I thought we did a great job of doing that," said associate head coach Shaheen Holloway post-game on AM 970 last night. "With that being said, we knew that other guys would step up. [Khyle] Marshall did a great job in the second half stepping up to the table making big shots and making big plays. I thought the biggest part of this game was taking away their threes," said Holloway, whose team held Butler to 2-18 (11%) from beyond the arc.
"Our whole gameplan was to come in and shut him down no matter what because he's a difference maker, as you've seen Saturday," continued Holloway. "When he gets going, their team gets going. When he starts making shots, [Alex] Barlow makes shot, [Elijah] Brown makes shots, [Andrew] Chrabascz makes shots. When you shut him down, then you force other guys to do things they don't want to do ... We took him out of his comfort zone and forced them to do things they don't want to do, and I think that was the difference in the game."
Despite saying he would switch to playing man-to-man during Monday's Big East teleconference, Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard opted to start with a zone again last night. And it worked.
"If you look at the game on Saturday, we came out in a zone and they made some shots, but we got out of a zone pretty quick and then we got to man-to-man and you can't play those guys man-to-man, they run sweet plays, I mean Dunham was running all around like Ray Allen," explained Holloway. "If you watch the first game that we played them at home, we did a great job on him until the second half, he made two big threes, turned the game around. Last game, he had seven threes, so our thing was to shut him down, and our guys did a great job with the scouting report."
Seton Hall's decision to key in on Kellen Dunham was fruitful, if not necessary coming into the game. As drawn up, point guard Alex Barlow started 0-7 from three-point land before hitting his eighth attempt, a season-high. With Dunham shut down and Barlow cold from the field, 44-percent of Butler's points came from senior wing Khyle Marshall, who scored 22 points and pulled down 7 rebounds in what was his last collegiate game. Elijah Brown (5 pts.) looked potent early but did not return to the game after suffering a left ankle/knee injury in the first half.
Gene Teague was undoubtedly Seton Hall's player of the game, putting up 14 huge points and pulling down 11 crucial rebounds, 10 of which came in the first half, for his ninth double-double of the season. The kicker? He played with the flu.
But it didn't affect his appetite.
"He's a senior and that's what its all about and these guys didn't want to play their last game today," said Holloway. "Gene had 10 rebounds at halftime, he was on the boards. Guys stepped up and got some boards with him, Brian [Oliver] had 9 boards."
Fuquan Edwin (10 pts) had an off night offensively, missing a few easy baskets after dictating the tempo early, but contributed defensively with countless deflections and three steals, one of which prevented Butler from scoring a go-ahead basket under Seton Hall's hoop with seconds to play.
"Fuquan did was Fuquan does. At the end, he got that big steal and that's what we needed, and that's why he's the [Big East] Defensive Player of the Year. Fuquan impacts the game without even scoring. Just his presence alone for our team, we know that he's out there and that helps out a lot ... He didn't score, but he did a lot of other things for us."
The Hall capitalized off just one Butler field goal over the first 8:33 of the second half by rattling off a 17-6 run to begin the half. Seton Hall extended their lead to 13 at the 9:49 mark and in textbook 2013-14 Seton Hall fashion, an offensive drought ensued. The Pirates would score just six points over the remainder of the game, all from Gene Teague, and an 18-6 Butler surge that somewhat resembled Seton Hall's collapse to Oklahoma nearly saw the first Big East Tournament win for the Bulldogs.
One of Seton Hall's only two baskets over the final 9:49, a Teague lay-in, came from a great bounce entry-pass from freshman guard Jaren Sina (5 pts, 2 asts), who received the start last night. "Jaren Sina did a great job of stepping up and making some huge plays down the stretch. Tremendous bounce pass to Gene inside, I actually think that was the play of the game for us."
Butler's run, sparked by defensive desire and offensive ineptitude on Seton Hall's behalf ended on a half-court Alex Barlow heave at the buzzer, his ninth official three-ball attempt of the night, the last of which would miss wide right.
"Survive and advance," said a philosophical Shaheen Holloway post-game.
Top-seed and No. 3 ranked Villanova awaits Seton Hall in the noon second round game at Madison Square Garden today. The Pirates lost both regular season meetings with the Wildcats by a combined 33 points and have less than 15 hours from the end of last night's game until today's tip to prepare for one of the best teams in the country.
Perhaps Kevin Willard can draw up some ballroom walkthrough magic a la pre-Syracuse last Big East Tournament.
"I think its great that we played them twice, so we're familiar with them," Shaheen Holloway said late last night. "They're a great team, they're small, they're not a good matchup for us only because they've got people than can break people down. We have to come up with a gameplan tonight as a coaching staff and try to figure out how to win tomorrow. I think the good thing is, I know its a quick turnaround, our guys just won a game so you hope that adrenaline runs into tomorrow."
The players will try to get as much rest as possible before tip, but it looks like Sha' was working through the night.
"I can't sleep because it's my scout. It's crazy for me because Butler [guessing here, inaudible] was my scout, and now Villanova's my scout, so I'm going to be up all night to try and figure out a way to shut them down, not even shut them down, contain them, and try to find out a way to score on their defense. Everybody says their offense is good -- they are a very good defensive team," said Holloway of Villanova's 14th-ranked defensive efficiency.
Villanova is riding a six-game win streak heading into today's matinee and have not lost to a Big East team not named Creighton. Though Jay Wright claimed on the Fox Sports 1 set pre-Seton Hall-Butler that their NCAA tournament seed doesn't matter, the ‘Cats are in the hunt for a 1-seed in the Big Dance and their first Big East title since the 1995 season.
Seton Hall is 3-13 against Villanova dating back to 2001 and has not won back-to-back Big East league games since 2012.
Last 10 meetings (VU 9-1):
Feb. 7, 2014, Villanova 70, Seton Hall 53, Villanova, Pa.
Jan. 8, 2014, Villanova 83, Seton Hall 67, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 25, 2013, SETON HALL 66, Villanova 65, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 18, 2012, Villanova 84, SETON HALL 76, Villanova, Pa.
Feb. 15, 2011, Villanova 60, SETON HALL 57, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 2, 2010, Villanova 81, SETON HALL 71, Villanova, Pa.
Jan 6, 2009, Villanova 89, SETON HALL 85 (ot), Newark, N.J.
Feb. 9, 2008, Villanova 72, SETON HALL 70, Villanova, Pa.
Feb. 10, 2007, Villanova 78, SETON HALL 69, East Rutherford, N.J.
Jan. 17, 2006, Villanova 73, SETON HALL 64, Villanova, Pa.
KenPom says: No. 6 Villanova - 75, No. 91 Seton Hall - 64 (15%)
Projected Villanova starters:
6-3 So., PG - Ryan Arcidiacono
6-6 Jr., G - Darrun Hilliard
6-6 Sr., G - James Bell
6-7 Jr., F - JayVaughn Pinkston
6-11 So., C - Daniel Ochefu
When: Thursday, noon
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: AM 970 (Gary Cohen, Dave Popkin), Sirius ch. 93, XM ch. 191
I couldn't accurately transcribe this answer from Shaheen Holloway on AM 970 last night, but here is his response when asked about how Seton Hall seems to struggle when Patrik Auda (4 pts., fouled out) is not in the game:
"[Joking/chucking] I'll tell you what man, I'm glad we won this game, because I think all of the coaches should be fired [if we had lost] because we didn't know that Auda had 4 fouls, we thought he had three fouls actually. Patrik is a big part of what we do, especially on the offensive end."
I couldn't actually hear Shaheen say "Auda" nor "Patrik" during the middle portion of that response, but the question was about Auda, and Holloway continues to talk about him after admitting the coaching staff didn't know how many fouls he had. Auda was immediately subbed out after picking up his fourth foul with 13:24 to play and sat until he was subbed in with 4:34 remaining. Auda then fouled out with 3:56 to play in the game, so I'm not quite sure what Holloway was referencing.