Rushed Reactions: Seton Hall 87, Xavier 83

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 12th, 2016


Three Key Takeaways:

Khadeen Carrington starred in another Seton Hall victory. (Credit: (USA Today Sports Images)

  1. Derrick Gordon changed the tide in the first half. Seton Hall’s lone senior created havoc on the defensive end with his deflections and hustle plays all over the floor. He was everywhere and set the tone for the Pirates, who used a 24-12 first half run to take control of the game. Gordon was one of the most important acquisitions on the transfer market this offseason and has provided Seton Hall with the leadership it desperately needed after last season’s collapse. His hustle and will to win were on display again tonight and made a huge difference in the outcome. His experience and selfless play is invaluable to a talented but still quite young group of Pirates.
  2. Seton Hall matched Xavier’s toughness and physicality. The Musketeers are known for their relentless, hard-nosed brand of basketball. Tonight they encountered an opponent more than willing to play just as tough and just as physical, and Xavier didn’t react well to that. In particular, the Pirates got under the skin of J.P. Macura and Jalen Reynolds; both players picked up technical fouls and eventually fouled out. The physicality of the game played right into Seton Hall’s hands as it turned up the defense and held Xavier to 34.9 percent shooting for the game. It was an impressive display by a young team that doesn’t seem have fear of any opponent.
  3. Seton Hall is a dangerous NCAA Tournament team. The Pirates are clicking on all cylinders right now. Their defense has been strong all year and ranks among the top 15 nationally in adjusted efficiency, but the difference maker has been an improved offense. Seton Hall struggled earlier in the year with stagnancy, but their chemistry and ball movement has improved by leaps and bounds over the course of the last five weeks. That’s due in large part to Isaiah Whitehead‘s stellar play, but also a result of increased contributions from complementary players like Desi Rodriguez and Khadeen Carrington. Seton Hall will win games with its defense and rebounding, but the added offensive punch makes them a legitimate threat to make the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend.

Star of the Game: Khadeen Carrington, Seton Hall. For the second straight night, the sophomore guard answered the bell with big shot after big shot. He finished with 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor. Carrington’s smooth and steady demeanor is a calming influence for what is still a very young team, Carrington included. He doesn’t get the recognition afforded Whitehead, but he’s a key cog in a tight backcourt rotation. With tonight’s performance included, Carrington has averaged 16.8 points per game over his last eight outings.


  • Kevin Willard on Seton Hall’s sophomores growing more experienced: “We were puppies last year and now we’re starting to turn into dogs.”
  • Khadeen Carrington on the Pirates’ talented sophomore class: “That’s what we talked about before we even came here; getting Seton Hall back on the map.”
  • Chris Mack on Isaiah Whitehead: “He’s a monster. He’s the best player in the league, I voted for him. He’s the real freaking deal.”
  • Mack on Seton Hall’s physicality: “They did what they do to a lot of teams. That is, they punked us.”

Sights and Sounds: The Garden was buzzing again for this one, with local school Seton Hall having the larger fan presence. There is nothing quite like the Friday night semifinal doubleheader at MSG. As for the non-partisan fans in attendance, they seemed to enjoy this tournament’s first upset of the week. Tomorrow’s championship game should provide even more animation, with Villanova’s large fan base and Seton Hall’s energized fans battling for noise.

What’s Next: Seton Hall advances to its first Big East championship game since 1993, when a team led by Terry Dehere defeated Syracuse. The Pirates will take on a Villanova team that swept them in the regular season, but only by a point in the second meeting. Xavier will head back to Cincinnati and await Sunday’s NCAA Tournament selection show. The Musketeers should be a No. 3 seed at worst and more than likely a No. 2 seed.

Brian Otskey (269 Posts)

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