Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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NEWARK, N.J. — Seton Hall will head to Puerto Rico undefeated.
The Pirates opened the second half on an 11-0 run and cruised to the finish line with a 71-50 victory over Columbia at the Prudential Center.
Seton Hall is now 2-0 heading into the Puerto Rico Tip-Off where it will face USC on Thursday and either Memphis or UT-Chattanooga on Friday. The team departs Tuesday.
“Early in the year the first thing you want to do is take care of business at home,” said Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez, whose team beat St. Francis (N.Y.) in the season opener Friday night. “Winning these first two games is important. In the last year-and-a-half, two years we’re trying to establish that we don’t want teams to roll in here and beat us.”
Jeremy Hazell led all scorers with 21 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-9 from 3. John Garcia had 11 points and 14 rebounds and Eugene Harvey quietly put together a nice game with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists.
“[Hazell] looks more and more every time when we step out there that he’s going to be our go-to guy,” Gonzalez said. “Guys are so afraid of his accuracy from the 3-point line that they’re running out there like mad men on him. Tonight he was 7 of 9 from the free throw line. He’s going to be our go-to guy.”
Robert “Stix” Mitchell added 10 points and 7 rebounds. Mitchell will sit the first two games in Puerto Rico because of a suspension handed down earlier this year related to an incident that took place last season when he wasn’t eligible to play after transferring. He will be able to play in the tourney’s third game.
“It’s like going to a rock fight with a water pistol, but you’ve got to find a way to overachieve,” Gonzalez said. “You can’t use it as an excuse. I’ll probably end up putting Mike Davis in and using two bigs.”
The biggest round of applause against Columbia came when walk-on Pete Peregrin checked into the game with about a minute left. A 6-foot junior guard out of South Plainfield who didn’t play high school ball, Peregrin is the only one of four walk-ons whose paperwork has been cleared to play. He missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
The Pirates led 34-27 at the half behind 14 points from Hazell and 7 from Garcia.
Freshman point guard Jordan Theodore had his right knee attended to during the first half and a wrap was put on it, but returned to the game. He finished with 5 points and 3 rebounds.
Patrick Foley led the Lions with 10 points and Issa Mase added 8.
“I didn’t think we would shoot 27 percent in the second half or 9 percent from 3,” Columbia coach Joe Jones said. “We just shot really a dismal percentage from the field.”
FAMOUS IN THE HOUSE
Jarrid Famous, a 6-foot-11, 235-pound center from Westchester Community College, sat behind the Seton Hall bench and received chants of “We want Famous.” He took an official to Seton Hall earlier this fall, and plans to visit UConn, MIssouri and West Virginia this spring. Villanova coaches will visit on Monday and Louisville head coach Rick Pitino and assistant Steve Masiello also plan to watch him work out Nov. 25. Famous will have two years of D-1 eligibility remaining…South Kent coach Kelvin Jefferson also attended with several of his players, 6-9 Jackie Carmichael (2009), 6-10 Rashad Wright (2009) and 6-8 Majok Majok (2010), a native of the Sudan who is the cousin of incoming UConn big man Ater Majok. South Kent just had Omari Lawrence sign with St. John’s and Kevon Parrom with Xavier…In support of Theodore, Paterson Catholic head coach Damon Wright is in the house with what looks to be most of the team, including Fordham-bound wing Lance Brown and junior Fuquan Edwin, who holds an offer from Seton Hall….Seton Hall’s other three walk-ons — Matt Cajuste, Darnell Gatling and Jason Simmons — are still waiting for paperwork to be cleared….
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.