The first time Seton Hall and DePaul met, the Pirates were in the middle of a five-game stretch of poor play while the Blue Demons had improved to 5-2, their best start ever in the Big East. Ten days later, the two schools are headed in different directions.
Losers of three straight games over an eight-day span since their win in Newark, DePaul's (11-12, 5-5) overall record has slipped below .500 for the first time since before conference play, when they lost six games in a row. Easily chalked up to falling back down to Earth by those looking from a distance, the Blue Demons had to fly back to Chicago to host Xavier less than 36 hours after leaving Prudential Center. Then, due to last week's snow storm, DePaul played at Providence on Thursday afternoon, instead of Tuesday, prior to traveling home to host Villanova early on Saturday. Not an ideal schedule for Oliver Purnell and his guys.
An issue going into the first meeting, DePaul has struggled to rebound over their last three games including a -20 margin against Providence and -17 against Villanova. Expect Angel Delgado (9.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg) to take advantage after pulling in 19 boards in Newark.
The Blue Demons were just 3 of 17 from three in the first clash, but have maintained their league-best 37.4-percent clip from beyond the arc over their last three games by going a collective 28 of 73 (38%); DePaul attempted a whopping 32 three-pointers at Providence.
DePaul has continued to display the balanced scoring effort that has four players averaging in double figures. Lead guard Billy Garrett Jr. (13.2 ppg, 3.9 apg) has scored 30 and dished 10 assists over his last two games after Xavier defended him well while Myke Henry (12.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Jamee Crockett (10.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg) have reached double figures a combined three times over DePaul's last three games.
The Blue Demon's fourth player to average in double figures, forward Tommy Hamilton IV (11.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg), is Purnell's only guy to surpass the 20-point barrier over their last four games, which includes the first meeting in Newark. Oliver Purnell has begun to dabble a little bit with shuffling his lineup after power forward Rashaun Stimage received the first start of his career and Hamilton his first in Big East play on Saturday against Villanova.
Headed in the other direction, Seton Hall (15-6, 5-4) has shook off a span of four losses in five games and has received a boost from freshman guard Isaiah Whitehead (12.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.3 apg), who returned from a stress fracture that caused him to miss nine games to produce his second-highest offensive rating of the season against Xavier. Whitehead scored 19 on nine shots, had three assists and three steals, and zero turnovers for only the second time this season.
The Pirates are looking to avenge their first-ever loss to DePaul on home turf and snap a two-game series skid against the Chicago-based school. A win would temporarily give the Hall sole possession of fifth place in the conference and a game in the standings on 5-5 Xavier. All of Kevin Willard's freshmen are producing and Sterling Gibbs (17 ppg, 4 apg) put on a show last week, registering 46 points (8-16 3pt), 18 assists and just four turnovers in two games.
Three things to watch:
Seton Hall to maintain their offensive spark. After some painful-to-watch games, Willard's squad has strung together consecutive outings with impressive points per possession (PPP) numbers at 1.18 and 1.20, coinciding with Sterling Gibbs taking his distribution to another level and some commanding guard play as a whole. If Isaiah Whitehead's showing on Saturday is something we're going to see consistently, that bodes well for what makes this team tick: sharing the ball and playing together.
Stopping DePaul runs. The Blue Demons like to play fast, high-possession games as indicated by their 42nd-fastest tempo in the country and took full advantage in Newark not by scoring, but through runs. Prior to their last two games, Seton Hall had struggled with runs but won at Marquette by way of their 22-3 surge out of the half and promptly answered a 12-0 first half Xavier run on Saturday. The best the Musketeers could do in the second half was a mini 8-1 push prior to Seton Hall putting the game to bed after the under-four timeout, indicating an improvement on the home team's part.
DePaul is 7-7 in games with 70 or less possessions and 5-4 with 71 or more.
Angel Delgado to eat. Seton Hall's impressive freshman forward has done well over his last three games, but he was dominant against the Blue Demons at Prudential Center, posting 19 points and 19 rebounds (8 offensive), both career highs. DePaul's poor collective rebounding must make Angel's eyes light up and he'll be a favorite to pick up his third double digit rebounding game in his last five. A lack of a true back to the basket forward on DePaul's part gives Delgado a little bit of a break defensively.
That said, junior college forward Rashaun Stimage made an impact with ten points and seven boards in the first meeting and is someone to watch off DePaul's bench, unless he gets his second straight start.
Series history (SHU 10-5):
Jan. 22, 2015, DePaul 64, SETON HALL 60, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 25, 2014, DePaul 65, SETON HALL 60, Rosemont, Ill.
Jan. 25, 2014, SETON HALL 86, DePaul 69, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 2, 2013, SETON HALL 73, DePaul 72, 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. 42 Seton Hall 76, No. 135 DePaul 72 (64%)
Projected DePaul starters:
PG - Billy Garrett Jr. (13.2 ppg, 3.9 apg)
G - Jamee Crockett (10.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg)
F - Myke Henry (12.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
PF - Rashaun Stimage (3.1 ppg, 2 rpg)
C - Forrest Robinson (6.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
When: 9pm, Tuesday
TV: FOX Sports 1 (Cory Provus, Tarik Turner)
Radio: 570 AM
Opening line: Seton Hall -4