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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

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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

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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.

NEW PODCAST: Court storming, Villanova/Xavier and a weekend preview

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It’s Friday, which means time for another edition of the NBC Sports College Basketball Talk podcast. Today’s episode touches on a number of topics from the last couple of days in college basketball, beginning with Duke’s Grayson Allen and the events within the Blue Devils’ win over Florida State Thursday night.

Was the trip intentional? How’s he dealing with the attention that comes with being a player of his caliber at a school like Duke? Rob Dauster, Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips all provide their thoughts on this situation.

Also discussed in the podcast are Sean Miller’s comments on court storming following No. 9 Arizona’s loss at Colorado Wednesday night, the Big East “Game of the Year” between No. 1 Villanova and No. 5 Xavier, the controversial finish between Washington and Oregon State, and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher. Or if you prefer, just click “play” in the embedded player below. Thanks for listening!

SUNDAY’S SNACKS: No. 6 Maryland survives, bubble teams avoid bad losses

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GAME OF THE DAY: Colgate 93, Loyola (MD) 90 (OT)

An Austin Tillotson half-court shot as time expired gave the Raiders a three-point win on Senior Day. Tillotson, who finished with 20 points, hit the game-winner just seconds after Loyola’s Andre Walker tied the game at 90 with a three-pointer of his own. Walker finished with 22 points and Eric Laster 26 for the Greyhounds, with Colgate also receiving solid performances from Alex Ramon, Sean O’Brien (18 points apiece) and Tom Rivard (17 points).

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 6 Maryland 86, Michigan 82: The Terrapins had their struggles with turnovers and dealing with Michigan’s Mark Donnal in ball screen situations, but they were able to do enough to pull out the victory in College Park. Robert Carter Jr. scored 17 points and Jake Layman 16 to lead the way for the Terrapins, who ended a two-game losing streak in the process. Donnal scored 22 of his 25 in the second half for the Wolverines, who once again played without the injured Caris LeVert.

Utah 80, USC 69: The Runnin’ Utes handed USC its first home loss of the season, becoming the first Pac-12 team to pick up two road weekend sweeps in conference play this season (they also swept the Washington trip). Jakob Poeltl was too much for USC, as he accounted for 29 points on 11-for-13 shooting, 13 rebounds, four assists and four steals. Jordan McLaughlin scored 20 points and Julian Jacobs and Bennie Boatwright 17 apiece for USC, but they were unable to mount a charge similar to their comeback from a 15-point deficit to beat Colorado Wednesday night.

Seton Hall 62, St. John’s 61: It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the Pirates managed to avoid a really bad loss as Isaiah Whitehead hit two free throws with 5.6 seconds remaining. Desi Rodriguez scored 24 points and Khadeen Carrington 12 as the Pirates navigated front court foul trouble (three big men fouled out) in the second half. Kassoum Yakwe led the Red Storm with 16 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Wichita State 84, Indiana State 51: The Shockers wrapped up the outright Missouri Valley regular season title with a blowout win over the Sycamores. Ron Baker scored 14 points and three other Wichita State players added 11 apiece, and on the other end the Shockers limited Indiana State to just 31 percent shooting. Wichita State closes out the regular season with games against Loyola (Chicago) and Illinois State.

STARRED

Jakob Poeltl, Utah: 29 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and four steals in Utah’s 80-69 win at USC.

Obi Enechionyia, Temple: 26 points on 10-for-20 shooting and seven rebounds in the Owls’ three-point win at Houston.

Alec Peters, Valparaiso: 32 points and 11 rebounds in the Crusaders’ 90-74 win over Detroit.

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin: 20 points, 12 rebounds and six steals in the Badgers’ 69-60 win over Illinois.

STRUGGLED

Boston College: The Eagles’ season may have hit its nadir Sunday night, as they lost 74-48 at Wake Forest. At one point Jim Christian’s team trailed 37-4.

Khristian Smith, Indiana State: Two points on 1-for-9 shooting in the Sycamores’ 84-51 loss to Wichita State.

James Ford, Quinnipiac: Four points on 1-for-7 shooting and three turnovers in the Bobcats’ 63-59 loss to Manhattan.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 21 SMU rebounded from its loss at UConn with a 74-63 win over East Carolina. Nic Moore led the Mustangs with 22 points and seven assists, Markus Kennedy added 19 points and nine boards and Jordan Tolbert posted a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds.

OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS

  • Bucknell (12-4) maintained their one-game lead atop the Patriot League with an 80-59 win over Boston University. Chris Hass scored 21 points and Stephen Brown accounted for ten assists and six rebounds in the win for the Bison.
  • George Washington avoided what would have been a bad loss, as they blew out La Salle 90-50 in the nation’s capital. The Colonials won big despite committing 19 turnovers, with Tyler Cavanaugh scoring 22 points and Patricio Garino 19.
  • Monmouth rebounded from its loss to Iona with an 82-75 overtime win at Saint Peter’s. Micah Seaborn scored 26 points and Justin Robinson 22 for the Hawks (15-3), who lead Iona (13-4) by a game in the loss column atop the MAAC standings.
  • Valparaiso won for the eighth time in the last nine games, beating Detroit 90-74 on Senior Day. Alec Peters led the way with 32 points and 11 rebounds.
  • Hofstra (12-4) held off Northeastern, 65-60 in Hempstead to remain a game behind first-place UNCW (13-3) in the CAA. The Pride visit UNCW Thursday night in the teams’ penultimate game of the regular season.
  • San Diego State wrapped up at least a share of the Mountain West title with a 78-56 win over San José State. Winston Shepard accounted for 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and Malik Pope added 17 points and 11 rebounds.
  • UAB retained sole possession of first place in Conference USA with a ten-point win (77-67) at Middle Tennessee. Dirk Williams scored 19 points for the Blazers, who lead Marshall by a game.
  • Temple remains alone atop the American, as they won 69-66 at Houston. Obi Enechionyia scored 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds, helping the Owls account for a 2-for-12 night from Quenton DeCosey.
  • Wisconsin turned their game around with a 15-0 second half run, as they beat Illinois 69-60 in Madison. Ethan Happ led the way with 20 points, 12 rebounds and six steals.
  • California won its fifth straight game, beating Washington State 80-62 in Pullman. Six players scored at least eight points for Cal, with Tyrone Wallace scoring 17 and Ivan Rabb 15.

VIDEO: Seton Hall players have their 80s hip hop knowledge tested

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If you grew up during the 1980’s, get ready to feel old.

Seton Hall, which has won it’s last three games, hosts Georgetown Saturday on what is also “80’s Night.” Of course we’re at the point where athletes playing in these games were born after that decade passed, which makes quizzing them on the 80’s that much more entertaining.

Friday John Fanta of the Pirate Sports Network quizzed Isaiah Whitehead, Derrick Gordon, Khadeen Carrington and Ish Sanogo on their knowledge of 80’s hip hop, and outside of a couple correct guesses it did not go too well. Best part of the video: Whitehead asking “is this Run DMC?” after each song.

It’s just a matter of time until we’re old enough to watch college basketball players struggle to identify some of the songs of the 1990’s.