In familiar fashion, No. 19 Seton Hall laid their second consecutive egg on the road in an 80-63 loss to Creighton in a game in which they never led.
Seton Hall trailed by as many as 16 in the first half after finding themselves in a 20-4 hole just five minutes into the game.
Oddly enough, the scorer of their first four points was then relegated to the bench for the rest of the game as Kevin Willard looked to be punishing Desi Rodriguez for lack of defensive effort and two early turnovers.
Angel Delgado (4p, 4r) would soon join him on the pine via two early fouls as things turned bad to worse before a supporting cast of underclassmen would follow the lead of Ish Sanogo (9p, 10r), who gave his team a mid-half boost.
After cutting their deficit to just 37-32 late in the first half after a Jordan Walker (3p, 2a) triple, Seton Hall couldn’t get into gear out of the locker room with Rodriguez still benched and four turnovers undermining the effort over the opening minutes.
Seton Hall’s condition turned from ugly to terminal when Delgado picked up his fourth foul — a flagrant — for a harmless but purposeful elbow shove with his team trailing 65-47 just prior to the final under-eight.
The Pirates drop to 15-4 (4-2) and have an important three games against Xavier, DePaul, and Providence before meeting Villanova for the first time.
Seton Hall is now +47 over the first 5 minutes of games this season and -22 in Big East play over the same stretch. Fans are beginning to worry about a pattern which has surfaced in league action, as the Hall trailed after the first five in just their first two non-conference games. The Hall has now trailed after five minutes in four of their six Big East games.
It was not a good shooting night for Seton Hall, early and often. The Pirates scored in other ways in the first half (+6 2nd chance, +5 pts off TOs, +3 fast break), but 38-percent from the floor and 28-percent from three isn’t good enough to keep up with a high-octane Creighton team.
Angel Delgado’s streak of 17 consecutive Big East regular season games with a double-double has ended. Delgado was closer to registering a double-double with turnovers (5) and points rather than rebounds.
Kevin Willard made a bold move by benching Rodriguez. After two quick turnovers and some questionable defense, Desi Rodriguez was benched at the 14:16 mark of the first half, immediately after going down 20-4. Rodriguez was seated at the very end of the bench and didn’t look overly thrilled by Willard’s punishment. Myles Cale started the second half in his place, which was a bit surprising as his prior doghouse trips didn’t last much longer than a half. More on this from Willard below.
Is Khadeen Carrington in a slump? He didn’t score until the 4:10 mark of the first half, and has now scored 6, 9, and 4 over his last three after starting the Big East on fire; perhaps scouting reports are clamping down on him. Myles Powell has helped mask Khadeen’s offensive deficiencies of late and the TV team made a good reference about the two less free throws Carrington is attempting per game as a result of his transition to point guard.
The supporting cast gave the seniors a chance. Ish Sanogo made the best use of his time off the bench, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Myles Cale, and Eron Gordon all had to pitch in, and the collective effort was capped off by Jordan Walker. His refreshing defense and quasi-ill-advised transition three to bring the Hall within 37-32 late in the first half kept the Hall close with the seniors struggling — usually these guys are the ones getting carried.
Three Quotes from Kevin Willard
On Desi Rodriguez getting benched: “Des, he’s been playing so well, so many minutes, he had that look on his face where he just didn’t want to be out there. When he gets that way, you just kind of let him regroup and refocus, and it just never happened, but he’s done an unbelievable job. When you’re playing the minutes he’s playing, sometimes mentally, you just don’t have it. It’s not the end of the world, he’ll get it back.
“He’ll respond, he always does. He’ll bounce back. All our guys will. None of our older guys besides Ish [Sanogo] had a good game. Just because they’re older guys doesn’t mean they’re always going to play well, everyone expects them to play great every night. Sometimes you don’t have a great night and we didn’t have a great night tonight.”
Rodriguez had the following to say on Twitter after the loss:
Haha really funny , why wouldn’t I want to be out there battling with my guys I love these dudes they are my brothers , we will be just fine trust me ✊?
— Desi Rodriguez (@desirodriguez6) January 18, 2018
On the bench keeping team close, then playing a lot late: “I thought Myles Cale did a good job, a real good job defensively. I thought Jordan did a good job in the first half sparking us on the defensive end. He hasn’t palyed a ton, so he doesn’t understand what a good and bad shot on the road is, but he brought great energy. Sometimes when you’re playing Saturday at 2:30 [then tonight], when you don’t have it, you might as well rest your big guys as many minutes as they’ve logged, you have to forget this one and get ready for the next one.
On the road struggles: “If you don’t have your A-game, it’s more mental than anything else, at home teams can find their footing and you can get away with some stuff and then all of a sudden the crowd will get you going. On the road, you have to come out and be sharp, and unfortunately at Marquette and here, we haven’t been overly sharp.”