In the history of the Seton Hall-St. John's rivalry, the Pirates have not gotten the better of the Johnnies in the 92 meetings, but after the win on New Year's Eve, The Hall is now 23-17 against the Red Storm at home. This was a critical win in many ways, but one of them is the fact that the Pirates will now face undefeated and #6 Villanova. The Hall will enter into that matchup with the confidence that they can play well despite the absence of Isaiah Whitehead and defeat the best that the Big East has to offer.
Without Whitehead, there were question marks as to how this team would respond against a quality opponent. Early in the first half, we saw that the Pirates settled for many jump shots and did hit some of them, but the St. John's defense did not allow Seton Hall to penetrate into the lane.
Seton Hall's defense also came to play. Red Storm guard D'Angelo Harrison could not miss in the first half and finished with 25 points. Besides the outburst from Harrison, the Pirates kept the rest of the Johnnies in check on the offensive end. Down the stretch, the Pirates went on that 13-4 run to close the game and put away their rivals to earn a key victory to open Big East play.
Seton Hall team analysis
- Seton Hall shot very well from the field in the first half (51.9 percent) and grabbed momentum with an 8-0 run to finish the half.
- The Pirate defense held St. John's to 36.4 percent in the second half, which helped to sustain that momentum.
- At home, the Pirates seem to be able to figure problems out and the crowd really helps them. Those have been key factors in their 7-0 home record.
- Another key was The Blue and White's advantage in three point shooting, especially in the second half. Seton Hall shot 6-12 (50 percent) and St. John's shot 2-11 (18.2 percent) from behind the arc.
- The 13-4 run to finish the game was the key after the 19-7 run by St. John's.
- Seton Hall's rebounding was great throughout the game and the team got many important second chance opportunities.
- Penetrating the 1-3-1 defense of St. John's took some time, but when they figured it out it made all of the difference.
- To free up 3-point shooters, the Pirates showed a great ability to move the ball.
- Getting out in transition off of turnovers and outlet passes is where the Pirates excel offensively. Seton Hall outscored the Red Storm 12-7 in fast break points.
- The Pirates got another stellar performance by Sterling Gibbs who finished with 25 points and hit key 3-pointers at the very end of the first half in addition to a key three pointer with just over four minutes left in the game.
- Angel Delgado is a rebounding machine and showed that again with his 12 rebounds on New Year's Eve. He offensive output in the first half was also important.
- Brandon Mobley had a double-double for The Hall and hit some key shots in the second half. He has taken that senior leadership role and we are starting to see signs that his overall game has improved too.
- After scoring 18 points through a four game stretch leading into the games against Maine and St. John's, Jaren Sina has scored 27 points over the last two games.
- Khadeen Carrington, despite the silly technical foul, was stellar. He was able to penetrate and slash through the Red Storm defense. That was vital to the success of the offense and fans should look to see more of that from him.
- Desi Rodriguez did not play very well and finished with just two points, but with five players in double figures it is hard to see where his opportunities would have come from in this game.
- Head Coach Kevin Willard started senior Stephane Manga who played only 15 minutes and did not score. Manga only recorded one rebound and I am not sure why Willard put him in that position to begin with in what was such a big game.
After missing opportunities to capture a marquee win in nonconference play, Seton Hall got a win over a rival, Top 15 team and a surefire contender in the Big East Conference. To top it all off, they got this win without Whitehead and some may argue that they played better in some respects without him.
Regardless, this win was key, especially with Villanova coming to town on Saturday. The Big East Conference is going to throw challenges at The Hall every week and this talented, young team will have to be ready for it if they want to compete for a conference title this season.
For the Villanova game, the Pirates have three advantages. The game is at home, sold out, and this team has the confidence of playing without their freshman phenom teammate. Now that they have a game under their belt, the Pirates know what they have to do to win games without their star freshman. Jay Wright's Wildcats have likely had this game circled on their calendars since they lost to The Hall in the Big East Conference Tournament last March. This will be a memorable clash at The Rock and Seton Hall will be ready for it.