NEWARK, N.J. — Leading by ten after an explosive start to the second half, it looked like Seton Hall had turned the corner in a physical affair.
But it wasn’t to be as Xavier and JP Macura, who scored 18 in the second half and 27 on the day.
Seton Hall got off to an electric 13-5 start that was a polar opposite of what transpired in Omaha, aside from another early burst from Desi Rodriguez (19p, 4r, 7 TOs).
Naturally, Xavier responded well and it looked like we were in for a high-scoring affair in the 80s before some strong defense from both sides intervened.
With Ish Sanogo (8p, 7r) receiving his first start since mid-December, it was no surprise that the Hall and Sanogo initiated the defensive play.
The Newark native held Trevon Bluiett to 15 points, though most of them came late and when he was on the bench, before picking up his fourth foul and a right shoulder injury mid-way through the second half. The untimely injury came after four quick offensive rebounds out of the half; Sanogo would return to the game.
Aside from Sanogo’s individual play, the Pirates allowed just one hoop for a six-minute first half spawn before Xavier reciprocated by pitching a shutout for a four-minute span late in the half.
Sanogo single-handedly propelled the Hall to a 10-point advantage just two minutes in the second half, but it was all downhill from there.
Seton Hall would score just 13 points over the final ten minutes after leading 51-47 following a Rodriguez dunk in the open court after a deflected steal.
The Pirates fall to 15-5, 4-3 and have a long bye week before taking on DePaul in Chicago next Sunday.
Hate him or… hate him, but JP Macura is quite the talent. Many guys can shoot or pass the rock, but it’s not possible to coach some of the intangibles that Macura brings to the table. I’d take him over just about anyone with a loose ball on the court.
Technically, Seton Hall blew a lead today. They led by ten early in the second half, and still led as late as the 4:24 mark before a Kaiser Gates three-ball. Credit to Xavier, who were much more composed down the stretch than Creighton were a few weeks prior.
Kevin Willard should be starting Ismael Sanogo for the foreseeable future. Aside from injuries, the main reason Willard has started Nzei for the past month is better offensive production. Well, Sanogo in part earned his start after a trio of good offensive games prior to Xavier, and he didn’t disappoint today on both ends of the court.
Angel Delgado (8p, 18r) endured most physical game of the season. Xavier was able to rotate a trio of strong forwards in Tyrique Jones, Kareem Kanter, and Sean O’Mara to tire the big man out. At one point mid-way through the second half, Delgado was out-muscled off the block and just looked at the official, hands on hips, absolutely gassed. Despite that, he nearly pulled down 20 boards, which would have given him the Big East all-time record.