Tuesday Recap: Seton Hall Blasts #8 Connecticut

    
January 4th, 2012

Seton Hall's struggles with Connecticut in their series have been well-doucmented, as the Pirates went into Tuesday's meeting having lost eleve straight dating back to March 3, 2001. That matchup between eventual NIT teams went down to the wire as the Pirates won 65-63. There would be no such suspense in Seton Hall's first win over the Huskies since 2001, as they stormed back from an early 11-2 deficit to win 75-63 in a game that wasn't as close as the margin would lead one to believe.

Jordan Theodore led Seton Hall with 19 points and 11 assists, scoring all of his points in the second half and knocking down some key shots to put the game away. The Pirates finished with four players in double figures, and Fuquan Edwin posted a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. After leading 11-2 with 16:19 remaining in the first half, UConn was outscored 33-11 the rest of the half as they trailed 35-22 at the break. The Huskies turned the ball over 13 times, with Seton Hall scoring 12 points off of turnovers.

Also of note in that first half was the fact that Seton Hall outscored UConn 18-6 in the paint and 9-0 in second-chance points, as their effort was far superior to that of the Huskies. Effort is one thing that can't be disguised on the floor, and that was the biggest issue for UConn on the night. Whenever a play needed to be made there was a Seton Hall player willing to make it, eventually leading by as many as 21 points late in the second half.

Herb Pope was the best interior player on the floor for either team, thoroughly outplaying the UConn frontcourt. Jeremy Lamb scored 19 points to lead the visitors but he didn't have much assistance outside of the 11 points scored by Niels Giffey. With the Pirates sitting at 13-2 and 2-1 in Big East play, fans of Kevin Willard's program may allow their minds to wander in the direction of an NCAA Tournament appearance in March and rightfully so.

Some may bring up Seton Hall's win at Syracuse last season as a win that was supposed to be a similar catalyst, but this current team is light years ahead of a squad that would go on to finish the season with a losing record. Pope and Theodore have been excellent leaders for Coach Willard, as Pope's return to full health combined with a better understanding of what the coach wants done has allowed the Pirates to take off. Simply put Seton Hall's got staying power, and while there's still plenty of basketball to be played an NCAA Tournament berth is a realistic possibility.   

Other Notable Happenings

1. Michigan State hangs on to beat Wisconsin in overtime, and the clock is a reason why.
When Ryan Evans rebounded Jordan Taylor's missed three-pointer in the final seconds of overtime and dribbled out to knock down a three of his own as time expired, it looked as if Bo Ryan's team would avoid dropping their second straight Big Ten home game. But thanks to the clock on top of the basket being faster than the one in the arena, the shot didn't count and Michigan State won by the final score of 63-60. Taylor led all scorers with 28 points but once again three-point shooting was the culprit for the Badgers, as they made five of twenty-two shots from distance and they've made just eight of their last forty-nine attempts.

For a team that's so reliant on the bonus shot it could be tough sledding for Wisconsin if they don't snap out of that funk soon. As for the Spartans Draymond Green led the way with 18 points and 14 rebounds and Keith Appling added 16, making Michigan State the lone 3-0 team in the Big Ten. The Spartans out-rebounded Wisconsin 41-33 on the night, and their 36-18 advantage in points in the paint played a major role in the outcome. Michigan State will be a major player in the Big Ten race, and if Wisconsin wants to get back into things they need to get better offensively.    

2. Fordham picks up a big win, knocking off #22 Harvard at Rose Hill Gym.
It may not have been the biggest win of the night, but Fordham beating Harvard 60-54 may have been the most stunning outcome. Tommy Amaker's Crimson have a solid resume as they approach the start of Ivy League play, but a loss like this doesn't do them any favors. Bryan Smith led the Rams with 22 points while Chris Gaston added 18 and ten rebounds, but the biggest issue for Harvard was their offense. In a 60-possession game the Crimson attempted 30 of their 55 shots from beyond the arc, making just eight. By comparison Fordham made half of their twelve three-point attempts and they were more effective in getting to the foul line as well. Tom Pecora certainly had his work cut out for him when he took the job, and while the process is nowhere near complete he can point to a win like this as a sign of progress. As for Harvard, a loss like this could make it even more important that they run away with the Ivy crown.  

3. Oral Roberts wins at Oakland to move to 4-0 in Summit League play.
Having lost games at North Dakota State and South Dakota State last week, Greg Kampe's Oakland squad needed to knock off Oral Roberts to remain in contack with the top of the Summit League. But while Reggie Hamilton scored a game-high 28 points it wasn't enough to hold off the Golden Eagles, who shot 66.7% from the field on their way to the 89-80 victory. ORU turned the ball over 18 times but had five players score in double figures, and it certainly didn't hurt to make 11 of 16 shots from beyond the arc as well. Dominique Morrison, the preseason Summit League Player of the Year, scored 20 points (6-8 3PT) to lead the way and Steven Roundtree added 16 off the bench for ORU, who is now 4-0 in league play and is tied with South Dakota State in first place. With the two Dakota schools visiting Tulsa on Thursday and Saturday, Scott Sutton's team could take a big step towards a regular season title. 

Quick Hitters

1. Louisville got back on the right track, beating St. John's 73-58 to end their two-game losing streak. Russ Smith accounted for 17 points, seven assists and four steals off the bench while Kyle Kuric and Gorgui Dieng also put together solid stat lines. But the true star was the Louisville defense as the Red Storm shot just 28.1% from the field.

2. Sean Mosley led the way with 19 points as Maryland held on to beat Cornell 70-62 in their final tune-up for ACC play. The addition of Pe'Shon Howard and Alex Len have made Mark Turgeon's team a much better unit, and it isn't out of the realm of possibility that the Terrapins surprise people in conference play. 

3. Siena didn't have much of a chance in the second half of the doubleheader at Madsion Square Garden as they were blitzed by Iona 95-59. Sean Armand set a MAAC record with ten three-pointers, scoring a career-high 32 points, and Jermel Jenkins added 16 off the bench. It's going to be extremely difficult for MAAC opponents to score with the Gaels, meaning that they'll need to do what Saint Peter's was able to do in the conference tournament title game last season. Make them grind it out and see what happens. 

4. Rob Jeter's Milwaukee Panthers took a tough loss as they fell 72-61 at Western Michigan. The Broncos are 5-0 at home this season, so the outcome isn't as much of a surprise as the margin. Milwaukee couldn't get to the foul line, attempting just nine free throws (making three) to WMU's 37 (making 30), and that was the difference.

5. Creighton moved to 2-1 in MVC play with a 76-59 win over Drake in Omaha. Doug McDermott led three starters in double figures with 24 points to go along with seven rebounds as the Bluejays won comfortably despite turning the ball over 19 times.  

6. Condolences go out to the Bartow family as Gene Bartow passed away on Tuesday at the age of 81. Bartow led Memphis to the 1973 national title game and was also the head coach at UCLA after John Wooden's retirement. His son Murry is the head coach at East Tennessee State. 

Five Notable Performances

1. G Sean Armand (Iona)
32 points (10-19 3PT) and six rebounds in the Gaels' 95-59 win over Siena. Armand set a MAAC record for the most three-pointers made in a single game.

2. F Greg Magnano (Yale)
27 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks in the Bulldogs' 82-67 win over Holy Cross.

3. F Draymond Green (Michigan State)
18 points and 14 rebounds in the Spartans' 63-60 overtime win at Wisconsin.

4. G Jordan Theodore (Seton Hall)
19 points, 11 assists and three steals in the Pirates' 75-63 win over #8 Connecticut.

5. F Anthony Davis (Kentucky)
22 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks in the Wildcats' 73-51 win over Arkansas-Little Rock.