Seton Hall didn’t ultimately take the route they would have desired at the Charleston Classic, but a strong showing against Ole Miss in their finale will look to be built upon when the Pirates take on Georgia on Saturday night in Newark.
Remember when I hyped up Georgia in my preseason preview of the Dawgs? Well, they haven’t quite lived up to my billing so far.
Coming off an NCAA bid last year and picked fifth in the SEC’s preseason media poll, Mark Fox’ team lost in overtime to Chattanooga in their opener, beat Murray State by 11 in their second game and then narrowly escaped High Point 49-46 on Wednesday — not exactly a quick start for the second SEC team on Seton Hall’s slate.
Not much has surprised me about Georgia’s rotation over their first few games, Fox is rolling with a seven-man rotation that is using junior Kenny Paul Geno (3.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and freshman E’Torrion Wilridge (3.3 ppg, 4 rpg) on the wing for decent stretches as opposed to a smaller guard-oriented lineup that I predicted a few weeks ago. A possible reason for this is the lack of guard Juwan Parker, who still hasn’t returned from surgery to an injured achilles tendon and looks like he will be out for a while.
Of the forwards behind center Yante Maten (10.7 ppg, 9 rpg) in the rotation, redshirt junior Houston Kessler (1.7 ppg, 4 rpg) has seen the most time thus far with freshman Derek Ogbeide sidelined due to a shoulder injury. One of the best sixth-men in the country and a true point guard, JJ Frazier (13.3 ppg, 4 rpg, 4 apg) is still coming off the bench for Georgia but plays a significant role while senior guards Charles Mann (10.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.7 apg) and Kenny Gaines (19.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg) start alongside Maten, a sophomore.
Georgia’s 20th-best defensive efficiency rating is probably inflated from their game against High Point, but Seton Hall fans know there is some validity to the rating after the Pirates were held to 47 points in Athens last December; the Bulldogs finished 23rd in defensive efficiency last year.
Kenny Gaines (13-of-26) is by far Georgia’s biggest threat from three — he was 7-of-14 in a 35-point effort against Murray State — while JJ Frazier (6-of-19) is also a guy to closely guard along the arc. The Bulldogs’ 3rd-best free throw attempt to field goal attempt ratio (FTA/FGA) when combined with their top-ranked percentage of total points coming from the line indicates a strong tendency to make their living at the charity stripe; 6-5 Charles Mann has the fourth-best free throw rate in the nation and will be a tough ask to contain.
Along with their short rotation, Georgia is also looking for a fifth scorer. Gaines, Frazier, Maten and Mann are all averaging north of 10 ppg, but no other Dawg has surpassed 3.3 ppg.
Three things to watch:
A continuation from Charleston. Factoring in the talent of opposition, Seton Hall put together their best 20 minutes of the young season in the second half against Ole Miss. Can they build on it?
Kevin Willard has stressed how his team hasn’t been able to take advantage of their opportunities to build runs, but their 12-3 push that flipped a 46-45 lead into a 58-48 game was instrumental against Ole Miss and needs to be replicated at least once on Saturday. A second straight win against SEC opposition will mark the Hall’s first three-game winning streak since they beat Maine, Villanova and St. John’s to become ranked at the beginning of 2015.
Much more from Angel Delgado. Don’t get me wrong, Angel has been solid and could have better stats than 8 ppg and 8.8 rpg if not for some foul trouble, but he could be doing a lot better. Whether the excuse has been playing against smaller teams or something else, Angel needs to combine more with Isaiah Whitehead on his drives and through post-to-post passing from Ismael Sanogo and Desi Rodriguez; Ish has already displayed an above average passing ability, he just needs to find Angel.
A better gameplan than last year. Granted Isaiah Whitehead was playing injured and Kevin Willard opted to stay another night in Florida after the USF game instead of flying to Georgia (the team saw the Orlando Magic game), the Pirates looked thoroughly outmatched in Athens last season. Willard’s team fell behind 27-11 which effectively put the game out of reach (since the Hall was playing so poorly) with eight minutes to play… in the first half.
Georgia is not as stout in the post as they were a season ago when Brandon Mobley and Angel Delgado were held to a combined 10 points and 8 boards, so I expect a bit more of an edge for the Hall in this department. Desi and Ish aren’t back-to-the-basket guys, but they aren’t afraid to mess around in the paint and have helped shoulder Delgado’s burden considerably five games into the season.
KenPom says: No. 81 Seton Hall 69, No. 56 Georgia 67 (61%)
Projected Georgia starters:
G – Charles Mann
G – Kenny Gaines
G/F – Kenny Paul Geno
F – Houston Kessler
C – Yante Maten
Projected Seton Hall starters:
PG – Isaiah Whitehead
G – Khadeen Carrington
F – Desi Rodriguez
F – Ismael Sanogo
F – Angel Delgado
Time: 7:30 et
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: AM 970
Opening line: Seton Hall -3