NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 18: Kris Jenkins #2 of the Villanova Wildcats attempts a shot as Myles Powell #13 of the Seton Hall Pirates defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Prudential Center on February 18, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

No. 2 Villanova scores decisive road win at Seton Hall

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Villanova was ruthlessly efficient on offense and used a balanced effort as the No. 2 Wildcats ran past Seton Hall, 92-70, on Saturday afternoon for a Big East road win. The win gives the Wildcats at least a share of the Big East regular season title, which they’ve won for four consecutive seasons.

Shooting 67 percent (33-for-49) from the field and 57 percent (12-for-21) from three-point range, the Wildcats had big days from Jalen Brunson (22 points), Kris Jenkins (22 points) Josh Hart (19 points) and Mikal Bridges (15 points).

Brunson was a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor while Bridges helped close the game with three late three-pointers as he was 8-for-10 from the field.

This was the type of offensive showing that makes you believe that Villanova (26-2, 13-2) should be a No. 1 seed come March and if their offense plays this well then they’re going to be nearly impossible to stop. Brunson is the type of efficient and intelligent lead guard who is happy to run clock with any kind of late lead while Hart and Jenkins aren’t afraid to take big shots late in the shot clock. When others like Bridges and Donte DiVincenzo also provide offense then Villanova has one of the most balanced groups in the nation.

With home games against Butler and Creighton and a road game at Georgetown, it won’t be easy for Villanova down the stretch in conference play but they should also feel pretty good about getting the Big East regular-season crown.

Seton Hall (16-10, 6-8) missed out on a valuable opportunity to score a win over top-five opponent in this one. The Pirates were led by Khadeen Carrington (22 points) while big man Angel Delgado (19 points, 12 rebounds) registered another double-double.

While Seton Hall would have loved a win over Villanova after picking off Creighton at home, they do get more chances to score wins over potential NCAA tournament teams. Kevin Willard’s team still hosts Xavier and ends the regular season on the road at Butler before the Big East Tournament.

Jenkins, Brunson, lead No. 1 Villanova past Seton Hall 76-46

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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) Kris Jenkins scored 16 points and Jalen Brunson added 13 to lead No. 1 Villanova to a 76-46 win over Seton Hall on Monday.

The Wildcats (18-1, 6-1 Big East) looked every bit like a team that could win back-to-back national championships in their first game at No. 1 in The AP Top 25 poll following a one-week hiatus.

Villanova fell from the top spot to third in the poll following a Jan. 4 loss at Butler. But wins over Marquette and Xavier vaulted the Wildcats over the Kansas Jayhawks and back into the top spot.

Led by four 3s from Jenkins, the Wildcats set a school record 47 straight wins at the Pavilion. Under coach Jay Wright, Villanova has been nearly unbeatable at home for most of the last 10 years.

Seton Hall (12-6, 2-4) was just the latest to go down in front of the 177th straight sellout crowd. Villanova’s rare blemish on its national championship season was losing to the Pirates in the Big East Tournament title game.

Seton Hall upsets unbeaten No. 16 South Carolina

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12:  Madison Jones #30 of the Seton Hall Pirates dribbles the ball up the court against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the first half of the Under Armour Reunion at Madison Square Garden on December 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Seton Hall overcame some rough stretches of offense and closed out strong as the Pirates upset previously unbeaten No. 16 South Carolina for a 67-64 win at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.

Despite only shooting 34 percent from the field, Seton Hall gutted out a win over one of the best defensive teams in the country.

Attacking the offensive glass hard for 18 rebounds, Seton Hall was able to stay in the game thanks to second-chance opportunities and a defense that kept working despite the sluggish offense. Khadeen Carrington paced the Seton Hall offense with 21 points while Desi Rodriguez added 16 points and Angel Delgado contributed a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Rodriguez made the go-ahead bucket with 11 seconds left as South Carolina sophomore P.J. Dozier missed what would have been a potential game-winning three-pointer at the other end.

South Carolina (8-1) once again excelled on the defensive end, as their ball pressure did a number on Seton Hall early. But the Gamecock big men were in foul trouble on Monday and it ended up hurting them immensely on the glass. Chris Silva (11 points) fouled out while Maik Kotsar had some foul issues of his own. And South Carolina couldn’t get much consistent offensive help for Dozier, as he finished with 20 points. The suspension of Sindarius Thornwell clearly made a difference on the South Carolina offense, but they also played pretty well without their leading scorer and had plenty of opportunities to win this game.

This win is very important for Seton Hall’s postseason aspirations since it’s a neutral-court win over a quality opponent. Up until this point, Kevin Willard’s ballclub had wins over Cal and Iowa but both of those teams aren’t nearly as strong as South Carolina. The Big East is going to have plenty of opportunities for more big wins with Villanova, Creighton and Xavier all off to good starts and if Seton Hall can earn some more quality wins, they should find themselves back in the NCAA tournament.

Seton Hall receives commitment from 2016 guard Gordon

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With point guard and Big East tournament Most Outstanding Player Isaiah Whitehead due to announce his decision regarding the NBA Draft on Thursday, Seton Hall is still awaiting news that will have a significant impact on their 2016-17 season. But the wait for Whitehead’s decision doesn’t mean that the Pirates aren’t looking to bolster other areas of their roster either.

Monday night Kevin Willard and his staff received a commitment from one of the better available guards, as 6-foot-2 guard Eron Gordon has committed to the program. Gordon, the younger brother of Eric (Indiana) and Evan (Liberty, Arizona State and Indiana), is a Rivals Top 150 prospect who joins Myles Powell in Seton Hall’s 2016 class to date. Considered by many as a scoring guard, Gordon gives Seton Hall another player to throw into the competition for minutes along with Powell and junior Khadeen Carrington (they also have Desi Rodriguez on the wing).

But just how good the perimeter rotation will be next season hinges on the decision of Whitehead. Should Isaiah return for his junior year, Seton Hall will have one of the nation’s best point guards running the show. But if he decides that it’s time to move on to the professional ranks, Seton Hall will have a major question to answer at the point.

Gordon may not be the last pickup on the recruiting trail this spring for the Pirates, as they’re also still in the running for 2016 forward Taurean Thompson, who earlier this month was reportedly down to Seton Hall, Syracuse and Michigan State.

No. 11 Gonzaga rolls past No. 6 Seton Hall

Gonzaga forward Domantas Sabonis, front, drives as Seton Hall forward Angel Delgado defends during the first half of a first-round game Thursday, March 17, 2016, in the NCAA men's tournament in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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There were two questions heading into Midwest No. 6 Seton Hall’s matchup with No. 11 Gonzaga. How would the Bulldogs deal with Big East tournament Most Outstanding Player Isaiah Whitehead? And how would the Pirates defend Gonzaga’s talented front court tandem of Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer? In the end it was Mark Few’s team that had the answers, as they beat the Pirates 68-52 behind a dominant performance from Sabonis.

The sophomore from Lithuania led the way with 21 points, 16 rebounds and four assists, and despite shooting 9-for-20 from the field he (and his teammates) set the tone from a physicality standpoint. Seton Hall began the game defending him straight up and not sending over help, but the change to doubling the post didn’t do much to deter Sabonis either. Wiltjer chipped in with 13 points and seven rebounds, and while Gonzaga had its moments on the offense it was their defense and rebounding that decided the outcome.

As a team Seton Hall shot 32.3 percent from the field and 4-for-21 from three, with their talented point guard struggling mightily. Whitehead shot 4-for-24 from the field, which is incredibly tough to overcome despite the fact that he dished out eight assists. The sophomore played tired for most of the game in Denver, and while the altitude can be cited Gonzaga’s defense had a lot more to do with it. The Bulldogs used multiple defenders on Whitehead, making him work for everything, and more often than not he settled for challenged shots or looked to force the issue.

With Derrick Gordon being the lone rotation player out of eligibility, the Pirates will enter next season with the expectations of being a contender in the Big East. But Thursday night Kevin Willard’s group ran into a program that’s now won at least one game in each of their last seven NCAA tournament appearances.

Next up for Gonzaga is No. 3 Utah, which took care of No. 14 Fresno State in its tournament opener. And with the Runnin’ Utes being led by center Jakob Poeltl, the Bulldogs will need another high-level performance from their front court Saturday night while taking better care of the basketball (20 turnover vs. Seton Hall).

Seton Hall beats No. 5 Xavier 87-83 in Big East semifinal

Seton Hall guard Isaiah Whitehead reacts after hitting a 3-point shot in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Xavier during the semifinals of the Big East men's tournament, Friday, March 11, 2016, in New York. Seton Hall won 87-83. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
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NEW YORK (AP) Khadeen Carrington had 23 points and seven rebounds to lead Seton Hall to an 87-83 win over fifth-ranked Xavier for the Pirates’ first Big East Tournament title game appearance since 1993, 2 1/2 years before he was born.

Fellow sophomore Isaiah Whitehead added 20 points and eight assists in Friday’s semifinal as third-seeded Seton Hall beat the Musketeers for the second time in less than two weeks.

The Pirates face third-ranked Villanova in Saturday’s championship game.

Seton Hall led by as many as 17 points in the first half, beating the Musketeers to loose balls and converting steals into easy baskets. And when Xavier made a second-half run, Whitehead kept answering with big plays.

Angel Delgado scored 15 points for Seton Hall (24-8). Edmond Sumner led the second-seeded Musketeers (27-5) with 21 points.

With the score tied 13-13 just over seven minutes in, Derrick Gordon scored on two straight fast-break layups to spark a 21-4 Seton Hall run. After Carrington hit a jumper, the Pirates got two offensive rebounds on their next possession, with Michael Nzei slamming home the second. Moments later, Gordon’s steal led to a fast-break layup by Carrington, who then hit two consecutive 3-pointers.

Xavier went scoreless for three minutes during the spurt as Seton Hall, which is headed to its first NCAA Tournament in a decade, built a 34-17 lead.

Seton Hall scored 15 points off takeaways in the first half. The Musketeers had more turnovers (12) than field goals (nine) at the break.

Xavier had nine field goals in the first eight minutes of the second half and started to fluster the Pirates with its 1-3-1 zone. But the Musketeers never got within one possession thanks to Whitehead. He hit a 3-pointer after they pulled within five with more than 12 minutes left, and two possessions later, after Xavier had climbed within four, he spun through the lane for another clutch basket.

He then blocked the shot of Sean O’Mara, who is 6 inches taller, as Seton Hall started to pull back away, aided by missed four missed free throws by the Musketeers.

Xavier shot 8 of 30 on 3-pointers.

The Musketeers made a late run and had a chance to pull within four with 21 seconds left, but Kaiser Gates hit 1 of 2 free throws. They then nearly got a steal, but Gordon was able to corral the ball and was fouled.

Double technical fouls were twice called in the second half.

TIP-INS

Seton Hall: Gordon, the Pirates’ lone senior, is their only player who was born before their last Big East final appearance. He had 10 points and three steals Friday. … Seton Hall had a whopping 25 turnovers but shot 51.8 percent from the field and held Xavier to 34.9 percent.

Xavier: Myles Davis went down hard when he got his layup blocked early in the second half, but he came back in after a brief rest. … Actor Bill Murray, whose son Luke is an assistant coach for the Musketeers, again sat behind the bench in an “X” cap. … Xavier was seeking to reach the final for the second straight season.

UP NEXT

Seton Hall faces third-ranked Villanova in Saturday’s championship game.

Xavier appears headed to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.