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Previewing Marquette: With tough schedule looming, Hall must make a stand Saturday

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Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The last time Seton Hall faced off with Marquette, they were desperate for a win to stop the prolonged bleeding prior to the return of Isaiah Whitehead.

This time around, the Hall (15-7, 5-5) must see their Saturday home test against Marquette as a crucial one to win with a tough four-game stretch looming that includes road trips to Villanova, St. John's, and Providence. With eight regular season games remaining, Seton Hall should be keen to take five of them to ease pressure going into the Big East Tournament.

Against DePaul, the Pirates defaulted to the selfish basketball we saw for a five-game span last month after stringing two games together where they scored at least 80 points in regulation. Their assist rate was the worst seen since Wichita State and an inept offense affected Seton Hall's defensive effort. A lone bright spot, Sterling Gibbs (17.1 ppg, 4 apg) tallied 21 points, five rebounds and four of the Hall's five total assists.

Marquette (10-12, 2-8) has lost six straight games, but have only been outclassed in Seton Hall's trip to the Bradley Center and their painful 70-52 defeat at Wells Fargo Center against Villanova on Wednesday night. The Wildcats exploited foul trouble and put tremendous ball pressure on Marquette's limited depth all night. Leading scorer Matt Carlino (14.5 ppg, 3.5 apg, 3.4 rpg) was incredibly lucky after a terrifying fall on a Ryan Arcidiacono pump fake, the shooting guard returned minutes later.

No one played well in Philadelphia but Carlino and freshman Duane Wilson continued their side-by-side production by each scoring 18 in an overtime loss to Butler last weekend and remain crucial cogs in Steve Wojciechowski's backcourt.

The Golden Eagles did not return to Milwaukee after the Villanova game, instead bussing up to Newark yesterday afternoon for a two-day stay before tomorrow's game.

Three things to watch:

Kevin Willard to shuffle his lineup. After his third impressive performance in four games, it looks like its time to give freshman small forward Desi Rodriguez (6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 16 mpg) a longer leash. Rodriguez has nearly the same defensive rebounding percentage and offensive rating as Brandon Mobley while boasting a 10.2 percent offensive rebounding rate compared to Mobley's 6.9 clip.

I'm not calling for Rodriguez to take over for Mobley, but perhaps extended minutes for a hungry freshman directly behind an inconsistent senior in the depth chart will provoke better results. Despite his up-and-down play within games and between them, Mobley averaged 12.7 ppg and 6.7 rpg over four the games before DePaul on Tuesday.

Rodriguez is a more athletic defender than Mobley, is great at snatching rebounds (especially put-backs) despite his 6-foot-6 stature, and the lefty can attack the hole off the dribble. Mobley of course has a more established jump shot, though he is just 31 percent (20-63) from three this season, three points below his career average.

Better interior defense. As I mentioned in my post-DePaul Notebook and my piece looking at Seton Hall's three-point defense, the team's interior defense has been ripped apart of late. Assuming Kevin Willard and the coaching staff stressed clamping down within the perimeter, I would expect to see improvement in this department tomorrow. Marquette was a solid 51 percent from the interior in the first meeting, up six percentage points from their Big East-only rate. Unless Luke Fischer gets going, this particular battle will be decided by Marquette's ability to take Seton Hall's guards off the dribble and how quickly the Hall's rotations come from their forwards.

Improved three-point shooting. Outside of the first Marquette game, Seton Hall is 43 of 167 (24.7%) from three dating back to and including the upset of Villanova and 8th in the conference overall (30.6%). Those aren't good numbers and are a result of contested looks, among other things, which are a byproduct of an offense that isn't cohesive. Jaren Sina (15-56, 27%), Khadeen Carrington (5-21, 24%) and Brandon Mobley (8-34, 23%) are a combined 28 of 111 (25%) from three in Big East play.

Series history (13-3 Marquette)

Jan. 28, 2015, SETON HALL 80, Marquette 70, Milwaukee, Wis.
Feb. 11, 2014, Marquette 77, SETON HALL 66, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 11th, 2014, Marquette 67, SETON HALL 66, Milwaukee, Wis.
Feb. 19th, 2013, Marquette, 67, SETON HALL 46, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 16th, 2013, Marquette 69, SETON HALL 62, Milwaukee, Wis.
Jan. 31st, 2012, Marquette 66, SETON HALL 59, Milwaukee, Wis.
March 5, 2011, SETON HALL 85, Marquette 72, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 19, 2011, Marquette 73, SETON HALL 64, Milwaukee, Wis.
Feb. 28, 2010, Marquette 84, SETON HALL 83 (ot), Newark, N.J.
Feb. 17, 2009, Marquette 79, SETON HALL 67, Milwaukee, Wis.
March 12, 2008, Marquette 67, SETON HALL 54, New York, N.Y.
Feb. 12, 2008, Marquette 89, SETON HALL 64, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 8, 2008, Marquette 61, SETON HALL 56, Milwaukee, Wis.
Jan. 24, 2007, Marquette 89, SETON HALL 76, Milwaukee, Wis.
Jan. 11, 2006, Marquette 67, SETON HALL 63, East Rutherford, N.J.
March 17, 1956, SETON HALL 96, Marquette 78, New York, N.Y.

KenPom says: No. 49 Seton Hall 71, No. 106 Marquette 63 (79%)

Projected Marquette starters:

PG - Derrick Wilson (5.9 ppg, 4 apg, 3.6 rpg)
G - Matt Carlino (14.5 ppg, 3.5 apg, 3.4 rpg, 42.6% from 3pt)
G - Duane Wilson (11.8 ppg)
F - Juan Anderson (9.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
C - Luke Fischer (10.2 ppg, 5 rpg, 2 bpg)

When: Saturday, noon

TV: CBS Sports Network

Radio: 570 AM/Sirius 108, XM 201

Opening Line: Seton Hall -6