Xavier, behind a performance to remember from J.P. Macura, came back to defeat Seton Hall 73-64 at the Prudential Center.
Macura, who had been taken to the woodshed on Twitter all week and then even more during the game, silenced the doubters with 27 points on 8-14 shooting and five rebounds.
During the first half, Macura was held in check for the most part with just nine points. In the second half, he reminded everyone how good he really is under pressure.
The senior scored 18 second half points on 5-9 shooting from the field and 3-4 from downtown. Add in some hustle plays and an offensive put-back slam and it equals Macura at his best.
“Feels good being at this podium with a different result than the last four years,” Coach Chris Mack said. “Some of the hustle plays those guys made, I’m really proud. It just shows how badly these guys wanted it.”
For Xavier, it’s their first win ever in Newark in five tries and Macura wins in his last trip to the Rock.
Despite foul trouble in the first half, Desi Rodriguez led the Pirates with 19 points on 9-15 shooting from the field.
Angel Delgado was limited offensively as he only took nine shots and finished with eight points, but did have 18 rebounds. With two rebounds next time out, Delgado will become the all-time rebounding leader in Big East history.
“They did a good job of going long on us,” Coach Kevin Willard said. “They were big and physical. You have to give them credit.”
Mack’s team tried with all of their might to make it tough on Delgado and were able to be effective.
“He is a fabulous passer,” Mack said of Delgado. “I don’t care what anybody says, he is an NBA player. The fact that he didn’t get invited to the combine is a joke. We didn’t want him to get low post touches.”
During the last four minutes, the Pirates struggled offensively and were not able to make enough plays. Couple that with Xavier winning 50-50 balls added up to rough finish to the game for Seton Hall.
“It’s disappointing with any home loss in this conference,” Willard said. “I thought the crowd was great. You have to give (J.P.) Macura credit. He did some things in the last four minutes that completely change the momentum.”
The Pirates actually came out strong and dominated the first half, but this time they struggled to finish the game out.
“Every team goes through a rough stretch,” Willard said. “You are going to hit a tough stretch in this conference. I like where we are.”
For Seton Hall, it is their first loss at home since February of last season and the Musketeers pick up their second conference road win of the year as well.
It was clear, especially from the start of the second half, that Xavier wanted to win this one badly.
From Macura making the plays in front of a student section that was on him all day to Coach Mack’s press conference. This one meant a lot to the Musketeers. So much so that Mack wanted more questions from the media when it looked like his press conference was done.
“No more questions?” Mack said. “I’ve never won here before. It’s a great friggin’ feeling.”
Seton Hall looks to bounce back after a week off when they travel to play DePaul in the Windy City and the Musketeers are back in action on Wednesday when they face Marquette at home.