Big East finale at DePaul provokes old memories for Seton Hall

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Although their post-season life doesn’t hang by a thread this time around, Seton Hall will attempt to vanquish the ghost of Jamee Crockett when they take on ninth-place DePaul on Saturday afternoon in their Big East finale at Allstate Arena

I’m sure you can remember 2012 vividly unless you’ve had a precise lobotomy. Sitting on the bubble at 19-10 (8-9) and in need of a win at a bottom-feeding DePaul team that had lost nine in a row, Seton Hall soiled the bed and then some in a mind-blowing 86-58 rout that saw an unknown role-player named Jamee “[expletive]” Crockett score 21 off the bench.

Caution: Some Seton Hall fans were definitely hurt in the making of this clip

Now I’ll let you pause as your blood simmers down from a boil and your surroundings cease fading to black.

The good news isn’t that Crockett is currently playing for a club named Hopsi Polzela in beautiful Slovenia, but that this Seton Hall team can withstand a loss to DePaul and still be in the tournament field, although they certainly don’t want to test those waters.

Coming off an 85-78 loss at Butler that was a tale of two halves, Seton Hall is still searching for a program-record sixth win on the road in conference play and will want to avoid a repeat of the too-close-for-comfort result in Newark. DePaul had won three games a row against the Hall coming into this season.

Waaay back in early January Seton Hall played the Blue Demons right down to the wire in a sparsely populated Prudential Center as Desi Rodriguez was benched for the final 25 minutes, prompting Kevin Willard to say that “No players talk like that [to me], not in this world” about his small forward post-game. Desi had apparently said something not ideal to his coach after being subbed out around the 5-minute mark in the first half.

Seton Hall missed four straight free throws in the closing minute and then Derrick Gordon fouled Billy Garrett Jr. while shooting a three with DePaul trailing by the same amount but the son of former Pirate assistant Billy Garrett missed the first freebie as the Pirates collectively exhaled.

Despite the uneasy memories, I’m not sure how much we can extract from that first meeting since Seton Hall has evolved as a team since then and DePaul has had to whether another rough Big East season.

One thing I do know is that 6-6 local freshman Eli Cain (10.3 ppg, 3 rpg) has really stepped up over the Blue Demon’s last 10 games and and has joined forward Myke Henry (13.9 ppg, 6.3 ppg) and point guard Billy Garrett Jr. (12.7 ppg, 3.8 apg, 3 rpg) in double figure scoring averages. A match-up problem at the three, Cain is probably the top Big East newcomer flying under the radar and is averaging over 14 ppg since late January.

Outside of Cain’s play, there aren’t too many brightspots for Dave Leitao’s bunch as they’ve lost 6 of their last 7 by an average of 21.5 points since upending Providence a month ago.

Turning the spotlight to Seton Hall, they can afford to lose this game, but obviously won’t want to. It will almost surely lock them into an 8-9 pod or worse yet a play-in game in Dayton if coupled with an early loss at the Big East Tournament.

There are no basketball-related reasons I can think of that would justify Seton Hall losing tomorrow despite the close first affair. The Pirates will want to avoid their second slow start in a row and should look to get Angel Delgado and Desi Rodriguez going early as the pair tend to be streaky scorers. I have confidence in Khadeen Carrington and Isaiah Whitehead to contribute their fair share of points and see success if they drive against taller guards like Cain and Garrett Jr. to try and get into the lane.

Last but not least, it will be interesting to see if there are any residual effects of Whitehead coming down hard on his left shoulder in the first half against Butler; you never know what some post-game swelling can do despite the floor general putting on a show in the final 15 minutes at Hinkle. A lot were thinking the worst when he went to the locker room with Tony Testa on Wednesday night.

KenPom says: No. 30 Seton Hall 75, No. 193 DePaul 67 (80%)

Last 10 meetings (Seton Hall 6-4; 11-6 all-time)

Jan. 2, 2016, SETON HALL 78, DePaul 74, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 3, 2015, DePaul 75, SETON HALL 62, Rosemont, Ill.
Jan. 22, 2015, DePaul 64, SETON HALL 60, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 25, 2014, DePaul 65, SETON HALL 60, Rosemont, Ill.
Jan. 25, 2014, SETON HALL 86, DePaul 69, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 2, 2013, SETON HALL 73, DePaul 72, Rosemont, Ill.
Mar. 3., 2012, DePaul 86, SETON HALL 58, Rosemont, Ill.
Jan. 10, 2012, SETON HALL 94, DePaul 73, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 12, 2011, SETON HALL 78, DePaul 67, Rosemont, Ill.
Feb. 14, 2010, SETON HALL 79, DePaul 71, Newark, N.J.

Projected DePaul starters:

Billy Garrett Jr. (12.7 ppg, 3.8 apg, 3 rpg)
Aaron Simpson (6 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
Eli Cain (10.3 ppg, 3 rpg)
Myke Henry  (13.9 ppg, 6.3 ppg)
Tommy Hamilton IV (9 ppg, 5.6 rpg)

Projected Seton Hall starters:

Isaiah Whitehead (17.4 ppg, 4.9 apg, 3.2 rpg)
Khadeen Carrington (13.8 ppg, 3 rpg, 2.5 apg)
Desi Rodriguez (12.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
Ismael Sanogo (4.8 ppg, 7 rpg, 1.5 spg, 1.2 bpg)
Angel Delgado (10.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg)

When: Noon et, Saturday
TV: FSN
Radio: 570AM
Opening line: TBD