Jan. 27, 2014
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – The Seton Hall men’s basketball team will look to close a mini two-game home-stand with its second consecutive victory as the Pirates welcome Butler to the Prudential Center on Wednesday for the inaugural meeting between the two programs.
A win would move The Hall (12-8, 3-4) back to .500 in conference play after the Pirates dispatched DePaul in convincing fashion on Saturday, prevailing 86-69 behind a 30-point effort from senior Fuquan Edwin (Paterson, N.J.).
Edwin helped Seton Hall race out to what would be a decisive advantage early on, scoring 22 points in the first half alone. The dynamic showing continued what has been a recent offensive resurgence for the Paterson, N.J. native. He is now averaging 22 points per game over the last three contests after a stretch in which he scored in single digits in four consecutive appearances.
During the matchup with DePaul, he moved past former Seton Hall great and current Chicago Bulls assistant coach Adrian Griffin for 20th on the school’s all-time scoring list. In two games last week, he shot a combined 16-for-23 (.696) from the floor. The torrid run landed him a spot on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for the second week in a row and the fourth time this season.
While Edwin delivered the superlative showing, ball movement and efficiency powered an attack that saw nine different players enter the scoring column. A fast start was key to setting the tone as Seton Hall broke out of what had been a first half slump with 45 points in the opening frame, riding a 20-point advantage at the break to the finish.
By closing out its third BIG EAST win of the season, Seton Hall improved to 11-1 on the year when holding a lead at halftime.
Forward Patrik Auda (Brno, Czech Republic) was a standout on both ends of the floor, registering nine points, six rebounds and five assists while point guard Sterling Gibbs (Scotch Plains, N.J.) once again capably directed traffic for the Pirates; finishing with a game-high seven rebounds and five assists of his own.
With a full complement of healthy players, the Pirates totaled a season-high 21 assists for the game while converting on 30-of-53 (.566) field goals. The high success rate was a byproduct of the easy opportunities that the Pirates created against a Blue Demons squad that entered the game with more turnovers than assists on the season. The Hall took full advantage of 14 giveaways by turning them into 21 points.
Such opportunities may prove harder to come by on Wednesday against a Butler (11-9, 1-7) team that is averaging less than 10 turnovers per game in conference play despite struggling to find results in the early portion of its first BIG EAST season.
Head coach and former Butler guard Brandon Miller employs an offense that has run primarily through sophomore guard Kellen Dunham, the third-leading scorer in the league at 18.1 points per game. Dunham has accounted for more than 25 percent of the team’s shot attempts over eight conference games as the Bulldogs have seen their scoring average dip by nearly five points off their 72.1 points per game mark for the season to just 67.4 per game in league play.
Senior forward Khyle Marshall (13.9 ppg) provides another versatile offensive threat for Butler on the wing, while 6-foot-9 junior Kameron Woods patrols the paint and currently stands as the top individual rebounder (9.5 rpg) in the BIG EAST.
With Woods slated to be on the floor, Wednesday’s game will see the top two rebounders in the league go head-to-head as Seton Hall center Eugene Teague (Vineland, N.J.) currently ranks second at 8.6 boards per game.
Dunham, Marshall and Woods are part of a core five, along with forward Erik Fromm and point guard Alex Barlow that has started all 20 games as a unit for the Bulldogs. Dunham, Barlow and Woods are all averaging over 34 minutes per game against conference competition as Butler has heavily relied on its first five to shoulder the load.
In the team’s lone conference victory – a 69-57 overtime triumph at home over Marquette that preceded a present two-game slide – the starters scored all but six of the team’s points. Over the last three contests, they have accounted for nearly 85 percent of the team’s offensive output.
It will be a “Whiteout Wednesday” when Seton Hall and Butler square off inside The Rock with tip-off scheduled for 9 p.m. A live national telecast can be seen on FOX Sports 1, while the Seton Hall Radio team of Gary Cohen and Dave Popkin will have the call for 570 AM (WMCA).
Tickets are still available, including an attractive offer through the Seton Hall Athletics SHUper Bowl pack. For more information, log on to HallTix.com or call the Seton Hall ticket office at (973) 275-HALL (4255).