Seton Hall looking for momentum in Big East home-opener against Marquette

Seton Hall must buckle down and try to get some Big East momentum going after a sobering loss at No. 10 Creighton when they host a tough Marquette (10-3, 1-1) group on New Year’s Day.

The Pirates only found consistent offense from Desi Rodriguez and Khadeen Carrington against Creighton, were unable to ultimately slow down their transition game, and were outscored by 10 at the free throw line, a recipe for a 14-point loss at a very good team to start conference play.

In an effort to get the ball rolling with home games against Marquette and DePaul plus a return road trip to Milwaukee looming on the horizon, Seton Hall (10-3, 0-1) will see some similarities between the Golden Eagles and the Jays.

In his third season at the helm, Steve Wojciechowski has his guys playing at the 35th-quickest tempo in the land while maintaining the 22nd-most efficient offense. Compared to Creighton, Wojo’s team are about on-par in both areas though they statistically play faster.

Unlike both Creighton and Seton Hall, Marquette is a superb free-throw shooting team to the tune of 81-percent, second-best in the nation; three Golden Eagles shoot over 90-percent from the line with at least 20 attempts this season. In general, they play sound basketball by limiting turnovers and racking up assists while a healthy chunk of their total points come from behind the arc.

UNC-Asheville transfer Andrew Rowsey (9.2 ppg, 1.5 apg) and highly-rated freshman Markus Howard (1o.6 ppg, 2.1 apg) will likely be Marquette’s primary facilitators in the wake of Traci Carter’s recent transfer; both guards are their most dangerous long-range shooters at 43-percent (24-of-56) and 54-percent (26-of-48), respectively.

The Golden Eagles also have at least three other threats from deep on the wing in USC transfer Katin Reinhardt (9 ppg), freshman Sam Hauser (9.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg), and do-everything senior JaJuan Johnson (13.8 ppg, 5 rpg, 3.2 apg, 2.3 spg), leaving Seton Hall with similar match-up worries that they held going into Creighton.

It will be interesting to see how Kevin Willard approaches the deployment of Madison Jones and Jevon Thomas on the defensive end as Maurice Watson Jr. was able to have a field day on Wednesday night, while the defensive prowess of Mike Nzei, Ish Sanogo and Angel Delgado will be put to the test.

The trio were effective in defending Henry Ellenson in both games last season, making it no coincidence that they held Marquette to 62 and 63 points in a pair of wins; at 6-foot-11, center Luke Fischer (13.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg) will present some problems for Delgado with his size.

Marquette lost to the three best schools they faced during their non-conference slate (Wisconsin, Michigan, Pittsburgh) but they did pick up respectable wins against the SEC’s Vanderbilt and Georgia. Following a sound home win against Georgetown in their opener on Wednesday, it’s probably safe to say Seton Hall needs this one more though an outlook of three consecutive games against Seton Hall and Villanova isn’t a pleasant sight for Marquette fans.

To give themselves a chance, Seton Hall must tighten up in areas like transition defense, free-throws and spreading the ball around to other offensive options like Mike Nzei and Myles Powell, as it seems the Hall is a bit more one-dimensional when it comes to who scores compared to the likes of Creighton and Marquette.

If Willard’s team can pump the brakes defensively a bit and play sound hoops like they did against the Golden Eagles last year, they may earn an important first win in league play.

KenPom says: No. 55 Seton Hall 81, No. 33 Marquette 79 (54%)

Last 10 meetings (SH 3-7; 4-15 in Big East; Willard is 4-8)

Feb. 3, 2016, Seton Hall 79, Marquette 62, Newark, N.J.
Dec. 30, 2015, Seton Hall 83, Marquette 63, Milwaukee, Wisc.
March 11, 2015, Marquette 78, Seton Hall 56, New York City, N.Y.
Feb. 7, 2015, Marquette 57, Seton Hall 54, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 28, 2015, Seton Hall 80, Marquette 70, Milwaukee, Wisc.
Feb. 11, 2014, Marquette 77, Seton Hall 66, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 11, 2014, Marquette 67, Seton Hall 66, Milwaukee, Wisc.
Feb. 19, 2013, Marquette 67, Seton Hall 46, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 16, 2013, Marquette 69, Seton Hall 62, Milwaukee, Wisc.
Jan. 31, 2012, Marquette 66, Seton Hall 59, Milwaukee, Wisc.

Projected Marquette starters
PG – Markus Howard
G – Haanif Cheatham
G/F – JaJuan Johnson
G/F – Sam Hauser
C – Luke Fischer

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

When: Sunday, 430PM et
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: AM970 (Gary Cohen & Dave Popkin)
Opening line: Seton Hall -1 (has moved to -3.5)