No. 23 Seton Hall up against Wagner following Rutgers debacle

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Beginning with Wagner, No. 23 Seton Hall has a pair of tune-up games to lick their wounds and fasten seat belts prior to diving into the thick of their Big East schedule.

The Pirates left Piscataway with their second loss and a rude awakening after a calamitous collapse on Saturday that can be summarized by a series of stats you may know by now, but I only just discovered having fortuitously missed out on covering the rivalry affair.

  • Rutgers closed the game on a 17-2 run, which ensued after a Myles Powell bucket at 6:06
  • In that 6 minutes and change, Seton Hall was 0-8 from the field with 4 turnovers and 2 made free-throws
  • Rutgers’ bench outscored the Hall 17-5
  • Seton Hall turned it over on 24.7% of all possessions, their worst rate of the year by several percentage points
  • The visitors scored just .89 points per possession, by far their lowest total this season
  • Khadeen Carrington (10 pts, 4-17 fg, 4a, 5TO) had his third-lowest offensive KenPom rating (60) over the past two and a half seasons. Lowest: Vanderbilt (37; 1pt, 3 asts), Second lowest: Xavier 2016-17 (56; 6 pts, 0-8 3pt)
  • Angel Delgado (7p, 21r) pulled in three touchdowns worth of rebounds, but only attempted two shots over the final nine minutes (both misses) — that’s not good enough for an All-American type player

I am no one to judge how much it was Seton Hall playing one of their worst statistical games in a while and how much the 24th-best KenPom defense plus a rabid home crowd helped Rutgers’ cause, but I’m sure it was a (un)happy medium. 

With that out of our collective systems, it’s time to leave the Scarlet Knights a few Parkway exits behind in the rear view and focus on Wagner.

As alluded to, the Seahawks (7-2) visit Prudential Center ahead of Manhattan, two teams that shouldn’t put up much resistance — on paper — as Seton Hall closes out their non-conference schedule.

Ranked in the high 200s in KenPom and with former Pirate point guard Donald Copeland as an assistant coach, Wagner has dropped games to the only pair of schools they’ve faced currently in the KenPom top-200.

Wagner lost to Missouri by 44 in their second test of the year but more recently lost to Rider in overtime this past weekend.

Statistically, Bashir Mason’s guys rely on the three (41%) and free-throws heavily and they are adept at grabbing offensive rebounds, but are average or way below average at everything else; breakout sophomore guard Blake Francis (20.2 ppg) and veteran point guard JoJo Cooper (13.2 ppg, 6.1 apg, 4.3 rpg) are Wagner’s primary scoring threats.

Cooper and Romone Saunders (9 ppg, 4 rpg) are the lone returnees from the Seahawk team that visited Walsh two seasons ago.

Three things to watch

Must easier offensive sledding. Wagner plays slow, is very prone to turning the ball over, ranks 339th in height, and appears rigid in the ways in which they can score. After taking on a gritty Rutgers team on the road, Seton Hall should feel like the first few swings after removing the doughnut from your bat in baseball. If they don’t, that’s worrying.

Spreading the wealth. As highlighted at the RAC, Seton Hall is suddenly suffering from a lack of effective depth after Kevin Willard praised what he said was perhaps the deepest team he’s ever [head] coached at Big East media day. Sandro Mamukelashvili will get there, but fourth-choice is appropriate right now; same goes for Eron Gordon, he hasn’t shown enough consistency when called upon; and where has Mike Nzei gone (besides VCU) after Ish Sanogo reclaimed his starting role? He has been a slight disappointment this year thus far. Seton Hall needs Jordan Walker back — expect that to be the case Wednesday, or Saturday if Willard is feeling cautious. Edit: Think again…

A bounce-back mentality. A staple of some of these better Willard teams has been their ability to rebound after taking welts that sting — and a collapse at an arch-rivals’ building is a painful welt, for sure.  From what I read, this team said all the right things after the loss on Saturday and they have earned the benefit of the doubt. The sky is not falling: Rutgers is far from a bad loss and Seton Hall is sitting about where they were expected to be (11-2), assuming they close out their non-league slate with a pair of wins. This group has seemingly only gained momentum with each setback they have endured, let’s see how they respond this time.

KenPom says: No. 18 Seton Hall 82, No. 232 Wagner 61 (97%)

Projected Wagner starters
PG – JoJo Cooper
G – Blake Francis
G – Devin Liggeons
F – Nigel Jackson
F – AJ Sumbry

Projected Seton Hall starters
PG – Khadeen Carrington
G – Myles Powell
F – Desi Rodriguez
F – Ish Sanogo
F – Angel Delgado

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