NEWARK, NJ- With most prognosticators saying that Seton Hall had a clear advantage with an 11AM start today since they played home early Wednesday night while Xavier later lost in Double OT on the road at Marquette, you never would have thought the opposite would have occurred. Xavier didn’t just squeak by the first-place Pirates, they were thoroughly dominant in all facets of the game. As Head Coach Kevin Willard said during the post-game press conference, his team was “taken to the woodshed” by the Musketeers. Seton Hall fell to 8-1 (16-5 overall) in Big East play, while Xavier improved to 3-6 (14-8 overall).
The Pirates uninspiringly trudged through their 2nd consecutive bad game in a row and in this game, the numbers do not lie. It is extremely difficult to win any basketball game no matter who you are when your team collectively shoots 24% from the floor and 15.4% from behind the arc in the first half. Conversely, Xavier roared out of the gate to a 30-6 lead shooting 51.7% from the floor and 33.3% from 3-point land. Surprisingly, they shot even better in the 2nd half (57.7% & 37.5% respectively) as they kept holding the Pirates back from making their signature second-half comeback. Seton Hall would get no closer than 7 points and seemed thoroughly deflated when Senior PG Quincy McKnight had to be carried off the court with an apparent knee injury. Despite leaving the game early, McKnight led the Pirates with 15 points and 3 assists while Sophomore F Jared Rhoden tallied 13 points and 5 rebounds. Struggling star Myles Powell was held to 9 points and 4 assists. For Xavier, Player of the Game F Tyrique Jones had a monster day with 19 points and 18 rebounds and F Naji Marshall also scored 19 points with 10 rebounds.
On a positive note for Seton Hall, Junior F Sandro Mamukelashvil, in his 2nd game back after injuring his left wrist, scored 10 points with 3 rebounds. After the game, Mamu told the media that he feels about 90% and was very encouraged with his performance today. Despite the absurdly early 11AM tip-off, 12,230 fans were loud and on-time to cheer their Pirates on in a nationally televised game. Senior C Romaro Gill saw his multi-game streak of double-digit scoring efforts come to an end as he finished the day with just 2 points and 5 rebounds.
The Pirates travel down I-95 this week to face Georgetown Wednesday, February 5th and then rival Villanova next Saturday February 8th.