Men’s basketball looks for second win against UConn this season
The first meeting between Seton Hall and Connecticut this season saw the Pirates snap an 11-game losing streak to the Huskies, one that dates back to 2001, as the Pirates won 75-63 on Jan. 3.
The win over Connecticut helped the Hall enter the Associated Press Top 25 rankings for the first time since 2001 when the rankings came out on Jan. 9.
But since then, the Pirates have struggled.
Seton Hall comes into this Saturday’s matchup against Connecticut on a five-game losing streak.
The biggest reason for the recent struggles is the offense, which went from averaging 73.2 points per game to 56.6 points a game during the five-game stretch.
“Our defense hasn’t changed; it’s just we haven’t executed on offense,” senior Herb Pope said. “That’s always a positive way to look at it ‘cause if you can play defense, you can fix the things on offense.”
The Pirates’ record now stands at 15-7 overall and 4-6 in Big East play.
“We keep getting off to slow starts, and it’s hurting us to play from behind,” senior Jordan Theodore said. “Especially when you face good teams ‘cause you have to fight back, and when we get back, we don’t have as much energy left.”
Connecticut enters Saturday’s matchup against the Hall with a 14-7 overall and 4-5 conference record while on a losing streak of their own.
The Huskies dropped out of the Top 25 rankings for the first time this season on Monday as a result of a five-game losing streak, following a loss to No. 14 Georgetown on Wednesday night.
In the loss to Georgetown, the Huskies fell behind early and were unable to catch up.
At halftime Connecticut trailed the Hoyas 31-21 and Georgetown continued to pull away in the second half, leading to the Huskies, 58-44 defeat.
Freshman Andre Drummond led all scorers in the game with 18 points while also pulling down eight rebounds.
The rest of the team did not give Drummond much help offensively, with only one other player scoring over six points.
In the Jan. 3 meeting the Huskies played without their head coach Jim Calhoun, who was serving the last of a three-game suspension in Big East play for recruiting violations.
During the game, Seton Hall took the lead at the nine-minute mark and held on to it the rest of the game.
By halftime, the Pirates led 35-22. They would extend the lead to 22 points with 90 seconds left, at which point the starters were pulled from the game.
Theodore led all scorers with 19 points while tying a season high with 11 assists. Sophomore Fuquan Edwin recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 assists, while Pope added 15 points.
During the current losing streak, however, Theodore and Pope have been scoring well below their averages.
Theodore has averaged 13 points and 4.8 assists a game, down from his season average of 15.7 points and seven assists per game. Pope has also seen a decline in his scoring, going from 15.9 points a game down to 10.6.
“We have gotten a little too mental and just stopped playing,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “And when you start thinking, you get a little hesitation in you.”
For Connecticut, sophomore Jeremy Lamb scored 19 points while the Hall held sophomore Shabazz Napier to six points on 2-of-12 shooting. Drummond picked up the slack with four points and five rebounds.
On the season, Lamb is averaging 17.9 points per game while Napier is scoring 14.3 points a game with 6.1 assists. Drummond, who was a top-five recruit out of high school, is averaging 10 points and 7.8 rebounds a game.
Tip-off is scheduled for noon on Saturday at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Following the game against Connecticut, the Pirates will stay on the road to face Rutgers on Feb. 8.
“We just have to keep fighting,” Theodore said. “The season is not over.”
Stephen Valenti can be reached at email@example.com.