Seton Hall withstood a 17-4 second half run and clawed within a bucket with two minutes to play, but Florida proved to be too tough in an 81-76 first round Pirate loss at the AdvoCare Invitational.
Khadeen Carrington (career high 28 pts) and Myles Powell (16 pts, 5 rebs) carried the Pirates for most of a fragmented second half after Florida shut down the paint in response to 23 first half points on the Gator interior.
Desi Rodriguez (12 pts, 9 rebs) got Seton Hall started early in the first half prior to picking up two fouls, but it was Florida who landed the first punch and led 18-12 at the second media timeout following a slow offensive start.
Most of the Gators’ first half scoring came from around the arc while Seton Hall looked more keen on feeding Angel Delgado (13 pts, 3 rebs) and scoring in the lane via floaters. That Big East-centric approach paid dividends as Florida racked up nine fouls in just ten minutes which the Hall took advantage by sinking eight of their first nine free throws.
A 7-0 Seton Hall run that included — you guessed it — a clutch Myles Powell three-pointer gave the Pirates a 25-23 lead and an offensive boost that carried into the halftime break.
Florida missed their first five shots after the half, but Seton Hall was only able to build a 47-42 lead that was quickly turned on its head by a 17-4 Gator surge. The run was in part fueled by a couple of missed Pirate layups which provided Florida with a 7-point advantage and much-needed energy after the dust settled.
Carrington and Powell came alive with Florida doubling Delgado and Desi, allowing just nine points from Seton Hall’s forwards in the second half after they scored 23 in the first period.
Khadeen was able to bring his guys within a bucket at 73-71 with 1:56 to play, but that would be as close as the Pirates would get as Florida sank four straight free throws to keep the Hall at arm’s length and lock up a meeting with No. 11 Gonzaga in the second round. Seton Hall will face winless Quinnipiac tomorrow night in Orlando.
Whether it’s the fault of the officials or the players, games with 51 fouls are not fun for anyone to watch. There were cheap reach-ins as well as phantom whistles from the zebras, a formula to bog any game down. In this case it probably helped Florida since they are a better free throw shooting team and play at a slower pace than Seton Hall. If it hasn’t already, it’s going to hurt Seton Hall if guys like Delgado and Rodriguez get in early first half foul trouble consistently.
Seton Hall’s defense was not up to par tonight, particularly around the perimeter. Florida (8-of-24) didn’t necessarily torch the nets but they did show off some nifty passing along the arc which created open shots and driving lanes that were taken advantage of. Perimeter defense has been a theme since opening night against Fairleigh Dickinson and it looks like it could be a weakness this season, although Jevon Thomas will help the cause when he becomes eligible next month.
Madison Jones did not provide enough offense tonight. Kevin Willard noted it post-game, but it was obvious to the average viewer after 28 minutes yielded 4 assists, two turnovers and zero points. Seton Hall can score in so many ways it won’t always be necessary for Madison to fill up the scoring column but he will have to do a more consistent job of creating for his teammates if that is to be the case. The Hall can’t afford a collective two points from two starters (Jones, Ish Sanogo) against strong defensive groups like Florida.
Three quotes (and one):
Quotes from Kevin Willard’s post-game interview with Gary Cohen and Dave Popkin
On where things went wrong: “We had two opportunities to go up 49 maybe 51 [at start of second half] and we broke down way too many times defensively. It happened against Iowa but it didn’t matter because we were able to score …. It was a tough whistle … I think guys got a little frustrated at times and that affected our defense a little bit. They didn’t come out and do anything besides a pick-and-roll and we couldn’t defend it … We had them deflated defensively at the beginning of the second half and then we got deflated a little bit when we missed two layups.
On Madison Jones: “Madison didn’t play overly well, that was the first time he looked a little shook. But for a guy who hasn’t played [in a year], I’m pretty happy with the way he has been playing.
When asked if it’s frustrating for Carrington to score 28 and not win: “I don’t know if it’s frustrating. It’s probably frustrating giving up those points we did. He didn’t look frustrated, I think the team is frustrated for a guy to play that well and not back it up defensively.
On Rashed Anthony not playing tonight at back-up center: “That’s a team thing.”