MBB: Seton Hall, Rutgers to battle for Garden State
While both Seton Hall and Rutgers come off victories, the two programs have started the season in opposite ends of the spectrum and will square off on Saturday, Dec. 6 for the 66th time in the inaugural "Garden State Hardwood Classic."
Coming off a 78-55 win over Mount Saint Mary's, the Pirates are 6-0 for the first time since 2009. A consensus top-15 recruiting class has entered the scene and immediately impacted the program, with the most recent standout contribution coming from guard Khadeen Carrington, who had a game-high 16 points on Tuesday on 8-of-8 shooting in the victory.
"I think our first six games have not been against marquee teams, but they've come against some really good coaches," head coach Kevin Willard said. "With such a young group, I'm just looking at how we are getting better. We're happy at 6-0, but need to keep improving."
Meanwhile, Eddie Jordan's Scarlet Knights edged Clemson on Monday night, 69-64, but have been inconsistent thus far this season at 4-3. The five-point win over the now 4-3 Clemson came after a 45-26 loss to #8 Virginia on Saturday, Nov. 29.
"We'll prepare for Rutgers like we prepare for any other game, but this is a big one," Willard said. "The positive is that our young guys have played on the big stage in high school and I think they know what this game means."
Senior forward Khadeem Jack led the way for Rutgers in Monday's win with 15 points. The redshirt senior had 10 points and eight boards the last time SHU and Rutgers met, with the Pirates pulling out a 77-71 victory in Piscataway in December of last year. Jack will fight on the glass against the Hall's Angel Delgado, who has led SHU in rebounds per game with 9.7 boards. The Pirates have averaged 36.8 rebounds per game with a +5.5 margin. While the front-court has two sturdy options in senior Brandon Mobley, who is averaging nearly 10 points and six boards per game, and Delgado, SHU's front-court depth is a work in progress. They will also have to take on sophomore Junior Etou, who is tallying 10.1 points and 7.7 boards per game.
The back-court, however, has been far from lacking options. Big East Player of the Week Sterling Gibbs will meet up against senior guard Myles Mack, who is averaging 14 points, four rebounds, and five assists per game. Gibbs leads the Pirates with 18.3 points per contest and has scored 62 points in his last three contests. ?
"This is going to be a fun game," Carrington said. "We have to stay focused. That's the challenge for us as a young team."
If this is an offensive affair, the advantage looks like it goes in Seton Hall's favor. Rutgers is 330th in college basketball, averaging 57.6 points per game in seven contests. The Pirates have averaged 72.7 points, which is 102nd in college basketball. SHU has led the Big East with a 41 percent shooting mark from beyond the three-point arc. Rutgers has made 35 treys, but the Scarlet Knights stand at 28 percent.
When Delgado was asked about the match-up, he said five words.
"We're going for the win."
Saturday's game will be at noon and will be televised on Fox Sports Networks. Follow @SetonianSports on twitter for updates.