The Seton Hall men’s basketball team (14-14, 5-10 Big East) looks to finish February the way it started- with a win. The Pirates look for the season sweep as they battle Providence (18-10, 8-7 Big East) on Friday, looking to pick up the pieces of a 65-60 loss to DePaul on Tuesday.
Senior guard Fuquan Edwin came out firing, finishing with 21 points. DePaul went 17-of- 18 from the free-throw line while the Pirates finished at a mark of 5-of-11, struggling to find any rhythm at the Allstate Arena. This loss came after a hard-fought 72-71 loss for the Pirates versus All-American Doug McDermott and Creighton.
“To feel so good about your team after Creighton and to have such a letdown is tough,” head coach Kevin Willard said.
Seton Hall eyes its second straight home win after the Pirates put up one of their best efforts of the season on Feb. 20 against Georgetown in an 82-67 triumph.
The Friars, who are on the bubble of NCAA Tournament contention, come into The Rock looking to build their case to the tournament committee while also searching for revenge.
On Dec. 31, the Pirates and Friars met in Rhode Island, and Seton Hall won an 81-80 double overtime game. Senior wing Brian Oliver and sophomore guard Sterling Gibbs combined for 33 points on New Year’s Eve. Two clutch free throws from Gibbs with 3.3 seconds to play decided the affair.
The Hall looks for the same balance that it had in the first matchup with Providence, as junior forwards Brandon Mobley and Patrik Auda compiled 27 combined in that game as well.
The Friars are powered by senior point guard Bryce Cotton, who is one of the top offensive players in the Big East. Averaging 21.5 points per game, Cotton went 8-of-12 with 28 points in Providence’s most recent game against Butler on Sunday, an 87- 81 victory.
Senior forward Kadeem Batts adds to the experience that Providence brings as the big man leads in the paint with nearly 13 points and 8 rebounds per contest.
With Cotton also putting up 6 assists per game, the matchup at point guard will be critical as Gibbs matches up with him. The Seton Hall sophomore comes off a three-point, three-turnover performance in which he only played 13 minutes. He looks to bounce back, but the difference maker in the second matchup between the Pirates and Friars could be the man who was absent for the first edition on New Year’s Eve, Eugene Teague.
The senior center had 8 points against DePaul, but was held to nothing on the glass. The Pirates got him involved early in the second half, and they were able to break away from Providence by two, but then gave it right back when they stopped going away from the big man.
The matchup in the paint will be critical as Providence boasts a +4.5 rebounding margin to The Hall’s -0.4. The Friars are tied for first in the conference in offensive rebounding with 12.7 per game, while Seton Hall is at a worst in that category averaging 8.4.
Standing at eighth in conference play, the Pirates can finish in seventh in the league at best.
Tip-off is at 7 p.m. in Newark on Friday in the second-to-last home game of the 2013-14 campaign for the Pirates.
John Fanta can be reached at email@example.com.