Seton Hall Takes Out Previously Unbeaten South Carolina For Huge Résumé Win | Zagsblog
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Tuesday / May 21.
  • Seton Hall Takes Out Previously Unbeaten South Carolina For Huge Résumé Win

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    NEW YORKKhadeen Carrington insists he didn’t have any flashbacks to last year’s Big East Tournament run on Monday night.

    “We was focused on tonight,” Carrington said.

    Last March, of course, the Pirates won three straight Big East Tournament games — handing eventual NCAA champion Villanova what turned out to be its final loss of the 2015-16 season — en route to the Big East Tournament championship and an automatic berth into the Big Dance.

    Some of that Madison Square Garden magic returned for the Pirates when they stunned previously unbeaten and No. 16 South Carolina, 67-64, in the Under Armour Reunion at the Garden. It was the Pirates’ fourth straight victory against a Top 25 team.

    Boston College edged Auburn, 72-71, in the first game of the doubleheader.

    With 12 seconds remaining, Desi Rodriguez drove past Maik Kotsar on the baseline for the final two of his 16 points and the key basket that put the Pirates up by two and Myles Powell added 1-of-2 free throws for a three-point lead. Then Seton Hall survived a desperation 85-foot heave from PJ Dozier (20 points) at the buzzer that rimmed out.

    “It was pass to Desi and everybody get out of the way,” Pirates coach Kevin Willard said. “Sometimes that’s the best offense.”

    “PJ made a decision to shoot, he’s the right guy to shoot the ball,” South Carolina’s Frank Martin said of the final shot of the night. “If it goes in we’re probably sitting here saying, ‘Wow, what a great shot.'”

    “I thought it was going in,” Willard told me. “When Dozier released it, I said, ‘Damn, that looks good as hell.’ I want to go back and see how it looks on the replay.”

    The Gamecocks (8-1) had entered the night as one of just seven unbeaten teams in the nation, so this win — Seton Hall’s fourth straight including back-to-back victories over Hawaii and Cal in Pearl Harbor — should definitely help come March. South Carolina is ranked No. 31 by KenPom.com, while Seton Hall is No. 44.

    “It’s kind of embedded in our brain that wins like this travel,” said Carrington, who scored 15 of his game-best 21 points in the second half. “This is an SEC team, they’re going to get better as the year go along and they’re going to beat good teams. So at the end of the year, when March comes along and the [NCAA  Tournament Selection] Committee is watching games like that, that win’s going to go a long way.”

    After losing two of three in what Angel Delgado (13 points, 12 rebounds) called “a terrible trip in Orlando,” the Pirates are hitting their stride with Big East play about two weeks away.

    They certainly made an impression on Martin, whose team continued to play without Sindarius Thornwell, who is serving a suspension

    “Seton Hall got dudes,” he said. “They don’t back down, they come at you.”

    He added: “We got man-handled in the second half [when Seton Hall outscored South Carolina, 40-30]. There’s no other way to word it. We got manhandled.”

    Carrington said his team is carrying a chip because of perceived disrespect about not being as good as last year’s Isaiah Whitehead-led team that lost to Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

    “We definitely play with a chip on our shoulder,” he said.

    On top of that, he said this team steps up in games at the Garden, where they have now won five straight.

    “It’s a bunch of New York guys,” Carrington said. “That’s the core of the team so I think we get up to play here. Not that we don’t get up to play anywhere else but I think when you’re playing in front of your family and friends it’s a little more to it.”

    With two weeks before Big East play, Willard is now looking forward to getting into a mini-training camp with his team, which he believes has a big upside.

    “Like last year’s team, I don’t think we’re nearly where we can be come February and March,” Willard told me. “I think we can get a lot better. I just don’t think we’re there yet.”

    Kathy Kmonicek AP Photo

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    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.

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