Pirates Outlast Red Raiders in Gritty Garden MatchupDate: November 30, 2017
(Photo: SHU Athletics)
By: Michael Lovero
Seton Hall (6-1) defeated No. 22 Texas Tech (6-1) during the Under Armour Reunion at Madison Square Garden 89-79 in a resume-building game.
After falling to Rhode Island on Thanksgiving on a last-second layup, Kevin Willard focused on his team during the off-week.
"We just focused on us, we didn't really focus on Texas Tech...we didn't watch film on Tech until yesterday," Willard said after the Pirates 10-point victory.
Seton Hall had a strong offensive first half by putting up 39 points from 14-of-30 shooting (47 percent). The Pirates showed good ball movement with 10 first half assists, led by Myles Powell and Desi Rodriguez, who both tallied three assists each. Rodriguez also had 10 points and three rebounds in the first half, but had 3 turnovers to add to his stat line, including an unforced turnover with less than two seconds in the first half.
The first half showed a lot of back and forward action, with nine lead changes and six instances where the game was tied. Though the Pirates kept the game close in the first half, they struggled defensively. Texas Tech shot 18-for-32 (56 percent) from the floor in the first half, and outscored Seton Hall in the paint 28-14 in the first half. Texas Tech's bench sparked the Red Raiders to a 42-point first half, with 24 bench points. Jarrett Culver finished the game with 17 points off the bench, 11 of which were in the first half.
Seton Hall and Texas Tech combined for a total of 25 team fouls in the second half, as the Pirates pulled away from the Red Raiders behind a 7-0 run in the middle of the second half constructed by Myles Powell. The sophomore guard finished the game with 19 points (17 in the second half), four rebounds, four assists, and two steals. He noted the senior leadership that contributed to his explosive second half.
"I just feed off of (the seniors)," Powell said.
Desi Rodriguez finished the evening with 24 points (third 20+ point game of the season), seven rebounds (five defensive), and four assists; he finished 7-for-16 from the floor and 3-for-6 for three-pointers. Willard has been impressed with his senior's consistency.
"He's become a lot more consistent with his effort... he's worked hard and I think he's just reaping the benefits," Willard said on Rodriguez.
The Pirates outshot Texas Tech 51 percent to 48 percent (55 percent to 33 percent for three-pointers), outrebounded the Red Raiders 37-33, and had more three more assists.
The Pirates are 7-3 at Madison Square Garden since the 2014 freshmen class arrived at Seton Hall, including two wins during the Under Armour Reunion. Last season, the Pirates beat the South Carolina Gamecocks 67-64 during the 2016 Under Armour Reunion. Khadeen Carrington reflected on his games at the Garden.
"It's close to home and it brings the fans out...this place is electric," Carrington said after the game.
The Pirates' upcoming stretch includes traveling to No. 17 Louisville (4-1) and coming back home to face Virginia Commonwealth (4-3) during the Never Forget Tribute Classic, and Kevin Willard expects his team to improve all around from these games.
"This team will get a lot better; defensively and offensively, I see them getting better," Willard said.
The Pirates travel to Louisville, Kentucky, to face the No. 17 Cardinals on Sunday. Louisville leads the head-to-head series 13-5, and have won the last five games against the Pirates. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00pm EST, coverage starts at 3:45pm on 89.5FM WSOU, WSOU.net, and the iheartradio app.
Michael Lovero can be reached at email@example.com.