GETTING INSIDE Seton Hall is learning that while a one-man show may be entertaining, it's not nearly enough to win in the Big East.
Jeremy Hazell scored 32 points, but no other Pirate scored in double figures as second-ranked Villanova downed visiting Seton Hall, 81-71, on Tuesday night. But coach Bobby Gonzalez benched Hazell for the last 4:06 of the game because he felt he wasn't playing within a team concept.
"I understand he has a lot of pride and he was trying to win the game,'' Gonzalez said. "He had 32 points and he really was our only guy who was scoring. But you just can't go 1-on-5 and be putting your head down and complaining to the refs on every call and taking bad shots.
"It's not good for the team, the offense, the coaching staff. It's not the way you want to play college basketball. I wouldn't be doing a good job if I allowed him to do that. I'm not teaching him, I'm not helping him. So I took him out.''
Hazell was not made available to the media.
The Pirates' next game is at Pittsburgh Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center. Interestingly, Seton Hall beat the then-ninth-ranked Panthers, 64-61, on Jan. 24 in a game in which Hazell scored only nine points in 16 minutes because he was in foul trouble. In that victory, the Pirates offense seemed a lot more unselfish without Hazell in the game. Since then, Seton Hall has lost back-to-back games despite Hazell totaling 60 points.
In that first game against Pitt, sophomore forward Herb Pope had 19 points and nine rebounds. Pope admitted before and after that game that it was quite special to him, because he is from nearby Aliquippa, Pa., and once verbally committed to Pitt before changing his mind.
However, he said with a straight face after the Villanova game, "I'm not even sure who we play (in the next game), but I know it's on the road.''
Actually, for him it will be a homecoming.
VILLANOVA 81, SETON HALL 71: Second-ranked Villanova (20-1, 9-0 Big East) used an 11-0 second-half run to take a 73-62 lead and coasted from there. Corey Stokes had two 3-pointers during the spurt and finished with 11 points.
Stokes was one of four Wildcats who scored in double figures. Antonio Pena led with 16 points, Scottie Reynolds added 15 and Corey Fisher chipped in 12. Jeremy Hazell led Seton Hall with 32 points, but was benched for the final 4:06 because Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez felt he wasn't playing within a team concept. No other Pirate scored in double figures.
The Pirates (12-8, 3-6) trailed 41-34 at halftime but scored the first seven points of the second half to tie the score. Seton Hall took the lead twice in the second half, the last time at 58-56 on a driving layup by Hazell. The Pirates later tied the score at 62 on another basket by Hazell before the Wildcats took control.
Villanova out-rebounded Seton Hall, 50-31.
--Coach Bobby Gonzalez was not happy with the officiating in the loss to South Florida, noting that the Bulls shot 31 free throws to his team's 19. Of course, considering his team made only 11 of those attempts, that was no great loss to the scoreboard.
--The loss to South Florida was a particularly tough to take because of the role that Jarrid Famous played for the Bulls. Famous, a junior college transfer from Westchester Community College in New York, was recruited heavily by Seton Hall before the big man eventually decided to join Stan Heath's team instead.
ON THE SPOT: Sophomore power forward Herb Pope had six points and seven rebounds against Villanova, his second straight subpar scoring game after tallying 19 points against Pitt Jan. 24. The Pirates will visit Pitt for the rematch on Saturday and Pope, who is from the Pittsburgh area, needs to come up big again for the Pirates to win.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You can't continue to beat teams all the time. Sooner or later, you're going to get knocked off, unless you're one of the elite teams. It's hard to keep beating somebody all the time." -- Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez, in the Newark Star-Ledger, on losing to South Florida for the first time in eight games.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: Seton Hall entered last week with a lot of momentum coming off back-to-back wins over Louisville and Pittsburgh, but followed up with a disappointing overtime loss at South Florida. At 3-5 in the conference through eight Big East games, the Pirates had some ground to make up as the league approached the halfway mark of its season.
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Herb Pope, F Jeff Robinson, G Jeremy Hazell, G Keon Lawrence, G Jordan Theodore. Key Subs -- G Eugene Harvey, C John Garcia, F Robert Mitchell, G Jamal Jackson, F Ferrakohn Hall.
Seton Hall 80, Louisville 77
Seton Hall 64, Pittsburgh 61
South Florida 76, Seton Hall 74 (OT)
Villanova 81, Seton Hall 71
at Pitt, Saturday at 6 p.m.
vs. Notre Dame, Thursday, Feb. 11
vs. DePaul, Sunday, Feb. 14
at St. John's, Wednesday, Feb. 17
IN FOCUS: The loss to South Florida puts the Pirates back into a position where the team needs a quality win. Seton Hall already has beaten Pitt once this season. A sweep would be a quick way to get back on the right track.
--Junior F Robert Mitchell was 4-for-6 from the floor with eight points and four blocked shots in 15 minutes. Mitchell is averaging 14.8 minutes in the last four games and probably should be getting more playing time, because the svelte 6-6 swingman can do more than merely score.
--Senior PG Eugene Harvey had nine points, seven assists and four turnovers. Harvey has 531 assists in his career, passing Gerald Greene (528) for third place on the school's all-time list. Andre Barrett is second with 662.
--Junior G Keon Lawrence went 1-for-3 from the floor and scored two points in 16 minutes. He had three fouls and three turnovers. Lawrence is one of Seton Hall's better defenders, but is shooting only 29.1 percent from the field. He shot 43.3 percent from the floor as a sophomore at Missouri in 2007-08 before transferring.
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