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MBB Visits St. John's Thursday

Fuquan Edwin

Jan. 22, 2014

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SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – Two of the most storied programs in the metropolitan area will meet in a pivotal BIG EAST matchup Thursday when the Seton Hall men’s basketball team heads to Carnesecca Arena in Queens for a showdown with rival St. John’s (10-8, 0-5). Tip-off is 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network and 970 AM (WNYM).

The Hall (11-7, 2-3) will be looking to build an off an impressive victory over another longtime conference foe in Georgetown as a healthy Pirates squad erased a nine-point halftime deficit to earn a 67-57 victory Saturday in the nation’s capital. The win was the first for Seton Hall at Georgetown since 2003 and the team’s second on the road in conference this season after the Pirates opened BIG EAST play with a double-overtime triumph at Providence.

In his second game back from an injury that forced him out of the Villanova contest (1/8), senior Fuquan Edwin (Paterson, N.J.) delivered the type of performance that helped make him a Preseason Second Team All-BIG EAST selection. Edwin scored 19 of his game-high 24 points in the final period, ending a stretch of four consecutive appearances in which he scored in single-digits. He also knocked down five of his eight attempts from beyond the arc, aiding an effort in which the Pirates shot a season-best 55.0 percent (11-for-20) from downtown.

Conversely, Seton Hall limited the Hoyas to just 4-for-18 (22.2 percent) from behind the line, including a 1-for-11 mark down the stretch.

Edwin also totaled five takeaways on the defensive end, claiming the top spot on the program’s all-time steals list (263) by surpassing the previous mark of 260 held by former BIG EAST Player of the Year Dan Callandrillo. Despite missing four games this season, Edwin still ranks as the league leader with 45 steals in 14 appearances.

The Pirates’ trip to Washington D.C. also featured the return of center Eugene Teague (Vineland, N.J.) who saw his first action in conference play after missing four games due to a concussion he sustained against Lafayette (12/27).

Foul trouble slowed the big man early on as he logged only eight minutes in the first half. The senior played a central role in a late rally by The Hall, finishing with 10 points and nine rebounds. Six of his boards came on the offensive glass as Seton Hall posted a season-high 15 offensive rebounds as a team, leading to 13 second chance points. 

Taking full advantage of the fact that the Pirates were at full strength for the first time in 13 games, point guard Sterling Gibbs (Scotch Plains, N.J.) handed out a career-high nine assists to go along with 11 points and four rebounds. Seven of his assists came on buckets scored by Edwin as the prolific duo was inserted in the starting lineup together for the first time since Edwin left in the opening minutes of a win over LIU-Brooklyn (12/5).

Having a full roster available could be key for head coach Kevin Willard’s squad as they look to deal a hungry St. John’s team a sixth-consecutive loss to start the BIG EAST season. The Red Storm recently halted the skid by stepping out of conference to defeat Dartmouth last time out, but remain the only winless team in league play.

St. John’s is led by junior D’Angelo Harrison, a capable scorer form the wing who ranks fourth in the conference at 18.2 points per game. Harrison has topped 20 points in three league games to this point – including two of the last three – a trio of losses that has come by a combined 10 points.

Sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson, the reigning BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, ranks second on the team at 11.9 points/game and leads St. Johns with 6.4 rebounds per contest. Sampson is not the only second-year difference-maker on the Red Storm front line as the 6-foot-9 Chris Obekpa ranks among the elite shot blockers in the college basketball, swatting an average of 3.78 shots per game; the second-highest total in the nation.

Both teams will be aiming to close the opening third of the conference slate on a high note and with a victory, the Pirates would join nationally-ranked Creighton and Villanova as the only squads in the BIG EAST with three road wins in conference play.

When the two teams square off on Thursday, they will be meeting for the 90th time in school history and the first since the Red Storm registered a 71-67 victory in late January of last season. CBS Sports Network will carry a live national telecast with tip-off slated for 7 p.m. The Hall’s radio broadcast with Gary Cohen and Dave Popkin can be heard on 970 AM (WNYM).