No. 22 Seton Hall (6-3) vs. Rutgers (7-3)
Garden State Hardwood Classic
How To Watch, Listen, News & Notes
Where: The RAC (8,000 capacity) in Piscataway, New Jersey
Tip-off: Saturday, December 14th at 4:00 p.m. ET (SOLD OUT)
Travel Info: Alternate Traffic Pattern
Promotions: “Scarlet Out,” rally towel giveaway, student section t-shirts, pre-game fan integration light show via app download (IPHONE or Android). Head football coach Greg Schiano to address the crowd at halftime.
TV: BTN - Brandon Gaudin and Bob Wenzel
Stream: FOX Sports App
Radio: Live Listen - Rutgers Sports Properties Radio Network (WCTC 1450 AM/WOR 710 AM/SiriusXM 372; Jerry Recco & Joe Boylan); WRSU 88.7 FM (Troy DeSavino & Justin Sontupe)
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers 69th; Seton Hall 18th; Rutgers moved up six spots since the win over Wisconsin.
Efficiency Rankings: Rutgers - Offense 104.1 (90th) Defense 93.3 (58th); Seton Hall - 110.2 (20th) Defense 90.2 (32nd)
KenPom Prediction: Seton Hall 73 Rutgers 70; Rutgers has a 40% chance to win.
Vegas Line: Seton Hall -2.5
Series History: Seton Hall leads the all-time series 40-30 dating back to 1916, including a 72-66 win for the Pirates at the Prudential Center last season.
Seton Hall SB Nation site: Big East Coast Bias
OTB pregame article: Rivalry Resumes
Seton Hall Scouting Report
Head coach Kevin Willard is in his tenth year at the helm and has the Pirates off to a 6-3 start. With such high expectations this season, its been a bit disappointing for Seton Hall early on having lost to both ranked opponents they’ve played so far. They lost to Michigan State by three points at home and to Oregon by two points on a neutral court. Their best win was over Iowa State in a holiday tournament, but they actually played a second time for a regularly scheduled game on Sunday and lost in Ames by ten points.
In Sunday’s loss, Seton Hall suffered a major setback with starting center Sandro Mamukelashvili breaking his wrist. He is out 6-8 weeks and will be hard to replace. He is the second leading scorer on the team at 10.9 points per game and is third in rebounding with 4.7 boards per game. His absence will mean more minutes for sophomore wing Jared Rhoden, as well as freshman big man Tyrese Samuel. The big unknown is whether center Taurean Thompson will break into the rotation now after only playing in one game so far this season.
Of course, the Pirates are led by preseason All-American and national player of the year candidate Myles Powell. The guard is sixth in the nation in scoring with 22.9 points per game and he is shooting 39.8% from three-point range on almost 10 attempts per game. He is third in the country averaging 3.9 three-pointers per game.
As a team, Seton Hall scores 80.2 points per game and are shooting 46.0% from the floor, 37.8 % from three-point range and 70.6% from the free throw line. Defensively, opponents are only scoring 66.7 points per game against them. They are an efficient, balanced offensive team that are dangerous from behind the arc (9.4 three’s made per game, 40th best three-point shooting percentage in nation).
Seton Hall will have had six days off since its last game, which could honestly go either way in regard to helping or hurting them. Not ideal playing its first game without Sandro in what should be a war, but this is a deep roster and they will have have the best player in the RAC on the court who can essentially shoot his team victory and has done so plenty of times before.
6’2” senior Myles Powell - 22.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals
6’4” senior Quincy McKnight - 9.4 points, 4.2 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals
6’6” sophomore Jared Rhoden - 7.6 points, 5.2 rebounds
6’6” junior Myles Cale - 7.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals
6’2” junior Shavar Reynolds - 6.0 points, 2.6 rebounds
7’2” senior Romaro Gill - 5.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.6 blocks
6’10” freshman Tyrese Samuel - 4.0 points, 2.7 rebounds
7’2” sophomore Ike Obiagu - 3.6 points, 2.3 rebounds
6’4” sophomore Anthony Nelson - 3.0 points, 3.3 assists
6’4” junior Geo Baker - 12.8 points, 4.3 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 1.7 steals
6’6” sophomore Ron Harper Jr. - 12.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals
6’6” senior Akwasi Yeboah - 10.0 points, 4.0 rebounds
6’10” sophomore Myles Johnson - 8.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.4 blocks
6’4” sophomore Montez Mathis - 7.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals
6’7” sophomore Caleb McConnell - 7.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists
6’2” junior Jacob Young - 7.0 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists
6’9” senior Shaq Carter - 3.2 points, 2.4 rebounds
6’6” freshman Paul Mulcahy - 2.8 points, 2.3 assists, 2.3 rebounds
Notes: As a team, Rutgers is shooting 46.5% from the floor, 27.4% from three-point range, and 66.0% from the free throw line......RU averages 72.8 points per game, while allowing 63.2 points per contest......The Scarlet Knights are second in the Big Ten in steals with 7.0, fourth in turnovers forced at 14.9 per game, and fifth in shooting percentage at 46.5%, blocks at 4.9, defensive rebounds with 31.8 and scoring defense at 63.2 points allowed per contest.....Rutgers is undefeated this season at the RAC (7-0), when limiting opponents to under 60 points per game (5-0), and when shooting better than its opponent (5-0).
On whether team’s confidence is boosted from Wisconsin win
“We are still figuring it out, but confidence isn’t one of our issues. We need to defend and rebound, that will help our confidence. Our guys are healthy, we are developing our rotation, guys are getting more comfortable in their roles.”
On defending Myles Powell
“I thought we did a decent job last year. I’ve seen everyone try to guard him a lot of different ways. He is a bucket getter. It’s got to be team defense, not just one guy. You’ve got to change up looks and try to make his life difficult.”
On how Sandro’s injury will change Seton Hall’s lineup
“They play a ton of guys; one reason I play a lot of guys is because you never know the obstacles that come up during the course of a season. Having him out gives opportunity to other really good players. Jared Rhoden is really good. Tyrese Samuel is one of the most talented young guys in the country. So their depth is certainly an advantage when you have an obstacle like Sandro going down.”
On the RAC crowd
“The crowd’s been great. Any time the RAC is jumping and loud, we’re a young team and they love the enthusiasm and love when the students are there. Hopefully we’ll have all of those things. It makes a huge difference. You see home records versus road records. The crowd really helps you in those areas.”
On the rivalry
“Since I’ve been here, they’ve been really exciting games. Real close games. It’s a great rivalry for New Jersey. You see two programs that are on the rise. Seton Hall, they’ve been ranked for the last few years with a Player of the Year candidate and a really great coach. The RAC will be rocking. People have been excited about this game for a long time. We’ve developed a nice home court advantage here. So it’s an exciting rivalry. The guys look forward to these games, that’s why they come to places like this. We look forward to the challenge and having a great game. To have this opportunity at home is a great thing for our program.”
On the RAC crowd
“It really energizes us with The RAC is packed. When we have the crowd on our side, it feels like the momentum is going our way. That gives us great energy and a bit of a boost. That home court advantage is so important and that’s why we really appreciate all the fans that come out. The fans, the student section have been packed, that really helps us.”
On the Seton Hall game at the RAC in 2017
“The one thing I remember was how loud it was. I couldn’t really hear anything. The RAC was rocking and it was great.”
Ron Harper Jr.
On the RAC crowd
“I know our fans are going to pack the RAC on Saturday. I know they’ll bring it. There will be 8,000 Scarlet Knights fans there. When you have those thousands of fans screaming in your favor, it makes you want to play harder. Having that crowd there is like having a sixth man supporting you on the floor. They’ve been great supporters of us all year and we need them to bring the same energy on Saturday. I’m really looking forward to it.”
On the Seton Hall game at the RAC in 2017
“It was probably the most intense basketball game I’d ever been to. Watching it happen and running on the court after we won, it was a great feeling and I couldn’t wait to play in that environment.”
On what the rivalry means being from New Jersey
“It means a lot to me. Last year, we played at the Prudential Center and there was primarily a Seton Hall crowd. Their crowd was rowdy last year and I know this game was sold out in like 20 minutes. The arena will be packed and I know 8,000 Scarlet Knights fans will be there and I’m looking forward to it.”
Keys To Victory
Make Powell Earn Everything
The idea that Rutgers will be able to hold Powell under 20 points is probably not realistic. He has scored at least 18 points in every game this season and under 20 just twice. However, it’s when he gets his points and how large a percentage of his teams scoring is what is more telling. Powell scored 37 points against Michigan State and 32 points against Oregon, but Seton Hall lost both games in part due to only two other players scoring between 9-12 points. Sunday’s defeat at Iowa State, he was the only player to score in double figures with 19. Rutgers obviously doesn’t want to give Powell any open looks, but the harder they make it one everyone else in blue to score is really the key. However, during key periods like the end of the first half and down the stretch of the game, the harder they can make it on Powell, the better. Expect multiple players to guard him with it likely being a combination of Montez Mathis, Caleb McConnell, Jacob Young, and Geo Baker. Empty the tool box and try to wear him down so that when he does score 20+ points, it hopefully took him that many shots to get there.
Offensive Rebounding & Second Chance Points
It’s what Rutgers does best and that rings true not just for this season, but for the entire Pikiell era. RU dominated Seton Hall last season on the boards overall 52-38 and on the offensive glass even more so with a 25-8 advantage. It resulted in a 20-9 edge in second chance points, but Rutgers missed far too many putbacks and shots near the rim, which ultimately cost them the game. Seton Hall has more depth and size upfront, but Pikiell’s all hands on deck approach to rebounding has to be a factor in this game.
Rutgers isn’t a better shooting team than Seton Hall, especially from three-point range, so they have to take advantage of every close look they get, particularly off of offensive rebounds. Opponents have a 28.9% offensive rebounding rate against the Pirates, which ranks just 203rd in Division I, so this is an obvious advantage for the Scarlet Knights, who are 40th nationally with a offensive rebounding rate of 34.1%. They need to keep possessions alive and make the putbacks or convert from the free throw line, while limiting the Hall to one shot per possession on the other end as much as possible, as SHU is 78th nationally with an offensive rebounding rate of 31.8%.
Get Geo Baker Help
I thought in the win over Wisconsin that Baker was the most aggressive in driving to the rim and the most effective in doing so at any point in his Rutgers career so far. It resulted in a game high 22 points on 50% shooting from the field. Baker is so much better shooting inside the arc than outside, but this game is going to be much more difficult for him. Quincy McKnight frustrated him quite a bit last season, holding him to just 4 of 14 shooting from the field and he might be the best defender Baker goes against all season. Willard doesn’t want to lose because Baker went off. Geo can’t settle for contested three’s and other players need to shoulder some of the scoring burden, at least early on, to open things up for him as the game develops. Also, look for RU to set ball screens for Baker to get some space away from McKnight and open up mid-range shot opportunities.
I’ve written often that Ron Harper Jr. needs to become the top scoring option for this team to take a major step forward this season. He has disappeared at times for long stretches in games, but has the ability to take over a game. Tomorrow would be a great day to do it. He’ll likely matchup with Myles Cale tomorrow and he has to win that head to head battle for Rutgers to have a chance.
Expect Akwasi Yeboah to start again and he has been a consistent scorer all season. Montez Mathis and Caleb McConnell have been good defensively but have a tendency to fade on offense. They need to stay involved in this game and both can be dangerous in transition off of steals and rebounds. And as streaky as he has been and reckless with the basketball, this would be a fantastic time for Jacob Young to have a breakout game scoring wise. Baker needs to play well and score in double figures, but Rutgers needs a few guys scoring to win this game.
Win The Battle in the Paint
Myles Johnson continues to make progress and with Sandro out, he is clearly the best big man in this game. The Hall have size and depth to try and wear down Johnson, but he was impressive in getting the best of Wisconsin’s quality big man Nate Reuvers on Wednesday. Foul trouble is a concern every time he steps on the court, but he could turn the tables in the post by attacking rim defenders Romaro Gill and Tyrese Samuel. His ability to establish a scoring presence on the block will help open up shots on the perimeter and lanes to drive to the rim for the backcourt of RU. Keeping him on the court and active on the offensive end is huge in this game. Shaq Carter has had a disappointing season so far, but he has had a few productive spurts the past two games. Anything he can give Rutgers tomorrow in the paint will be a lift.
Seize The Moment & Cooler Heads Will Prevail
The RAC is going to be a truly crazy environment for this game. It’s a sellout, it’s Seton Hall, and to top all of that off, Rutgers football head coach Greg Schiano will be making a speech to the crowd at halftime. Both teams badly need this win and this matchup always results in odd antics and weird happenings. Jerry Carino captures them all so eloquently here. Last season’s game resulted in five technical foul calls, the most in the history of the rivalry.
Rutgers must keep their composure, stick to the gameplan on offense, not force shots or bad passes, and stay disciplined on the defensive end. Win the turnover battle and look to run in transition when opportunities present itself.
Two years ago they produced an epic 17-2 comeback in the final minutes of the game to stun no. 15 Seton Hall, followed by cutting a 17 point deficit to just 3 points in the closing of last year’s game at the Prudential Center. This group knows they can hang with Seton Hall and it’s likely that the team that plays smarter and more within themselves will end up the victor. OH, and Rutgers HAS to convert from the foul line to win this game. Carpe Diem!
Appropriate Music Selection
For the tenth game of the season, I’m featuring the song “Victory” by one of my all-time favorite bands, The Walkmen. I’ve seen them live twice and they have such a unique sound. The lyrics of this song is very appropriate as well:
“We all get even. We all get wise. Take what’s good for me. I know what I fight.”
“Victory right beside me. There’s blood all over my hands. Victory should be mine.”
“Victory right beside me. There’s so much blood all over my hands. Victory right beside me. There’s blood, blood on my hands.”
I’m not condoning actual blood being spilled in this game, even if it’s happened before. But there is no doubt that bad blood, so to speak, between the two teams and two fan bases exists. A victory means so much for whichever side gets it and it’s going to be another epic battle in this rivalry to the final whistle. The RAC should be raucous scene and it’s a big opportunity for Rutgers to gain a signature win this season.