Men hit road, try to keep winning ways
With a win this past Saturday, Seton Hall accomplished a feat for the first time in the Bobby Gonzalez era: a defeat of a top 10 opponent.
This week the Pirates have a chance to do something they have yet to accomplish this season: win a Big East game on the road.
They will have two chances coming up as the Pirates are set to face South Florida and Villanova, respectively, in two pivotal conference match-ups.
The Hall will head down to Tampa to take on the University of South Florida Thursday night.
Seton Hall is 4-0 against the Bulls under Gonzalez and 1-0 at the USF Sun Dome.
The most recent match-up was a 75-60 victory at the Prudential Center last season.
Jeremy Hazell led the way for Seton Hall with 20 points while Dominique Jones and Augustus Gilchrist each scored 20 in the loss.
The Pirates will once again have to contain Jones and Gilchrist, who will be back for South Florida.
Jones, the Bulls’ leading scorer at 21 points per game and reigning Big East Player of the Week, is coming off a school record setting performance.
The junior guard exploded for 46 points in a 109-105 overtime win at Providence.
He also flirted with a triple-double, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out eight assists.
Gilchrist meanwhile is one of the most improved players in the Big East.
He is averaging 18.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, an impressive jump from the 10.4 and 4.4 averages he held last time he faced off against the Pirates.
A win would give the Pirates their first road win of the conference season, and it would also bring them back to .500 in the Big East after impressive back-to-back wins over Louisville and No. 9 Pittsburgh last week at the Prudential Center.
Following Thursday’s tip-off, the Hall will head to No. 3 Villanova to take on the Wildcats in what will be one of the most difficult roads games of the season.
Villanova is currently ranked third in the nation, but after a 90-72 win last night against Notre Dame that ranking will most likely improve.
A major reason the Wildcats will probably climb in rankings is because of No. 1 ranked Kentucky’s 68-62 loss against the Univsersity of Southern Carolina on Tuesday night.
The Pirates dropped a tough one last year to the then No. 18 Wildcats, falling 89-85 in overtime at The Rock.
Eugene Harvey dropped 19 points and nine assists for the Pirates.
Wildcats guard Scottie Reynolds scored 40 points on the strength of five three’s and an efficient 15-16 from the free throw line.
Reynolds is fifth in the Big East this season at 18.7 points per game leading a Villanova team that ranks first in the conference in scoring at 84.9 points per game.
The key for the Hall in these two games and pushing forward the rest of the season may be the defensive effort.
In the Pirates’ three Big East wins they’ve held opponents to just over 71 points per game, while yielding 81.5 in their four losses.
Coming off of a game in which they held No. 9 Pittsburgh to just 61 points and 20 turnovers, Seton Hall is going to have to repeat that strong defensive play if they want to be victorious this week.
If the Pirates are able to succefssfully repeat that against Southern Florida and Villanova, then head coach Bobby Gonzalez may finally have the correct defensive formula for success.
That will certainly be put to the test in the weeks to come, beginning Thursday night against USF.
Zach Cziryak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org