Seton Hall has had Xavier's number as of late, and Friday's Big East semifinal game was no different. The Seton Hall Pirates defeated the Xavier Muskateers 87-83 on Friday. The Pirates beat Xavier for the second time in less than two weeks, after beating Xavier in February. Seton Hall will now head to the Big East Championship to take on Villanova, who beat Providence on Friday night.
Seton Hall was almost assured a spot even before this game, but this win over Xavier, who was ranked fifth in the nation coming in, only helps to boost Seton Hall's seeding in the tournament field that will be announced on Sunday afternoon. The Pirates have had a remarkable season and will most certainly be heading to their fist NCAA tournament appearance in a decade.
Seton Hall Too Strong For Xavier
Seton Hall had a huge lead in the first half, leading by as many as 17 at one point in the first 20 minutes of the game. Seton Hall did struggle protecting the ball, as they committed 25 turnovers against Xavier but did well enough offensively to defeat Xavier once again. The Pirates shot an outstanding 51 percent from the field and in turn held Xavier to just a 34 percent mark from the field on Friday.
Khadeen Carrington led all scorers in the game with 23 points on 8-11 from the field, including 3-6 from beyond the arc. Carrington also chipped in seven boards and three dimes, but had five turnovers on the night. Isaiah Whitehead had another great game as he continues his impressive play in the 2015-2016 campaign. Whitehead finished with 20 points on a 5-13 clip and 7-9 from the free throw line, while adding five boards and eight assists. Whitehead did have a team-high six turnovers, as the Pirates desperately need to improve on taking care of the ball.
"He's a monster," Xavier coach Chris Mack said of Whitehead. "He's the best player in the league. Put that down."
Angel Delgado had 15 points on 5-7 from the field and added six boards. Derrick Gordon came off the bench once again and scored 10 points on 4-8 shooting with four rebounds. The Pirates had six players with at least five rebounds and four players shoot 50 percent or better from the field. Seton Hall was outrebounded by Xavier, but had a higher shooting percentage overall from the field, from the free throw line, and from beyond the arc. The Pirates finished 35 percent from the three-point line.
Seton Hall is definitely a lock for the Big Dance, but they have a tough matchup on Saturday against Villanova, who was ranked first in the nation just less than six weeks ago. A win over Villanova would give Seton Hall tremendous momentum heading into the tournament and would help pad their resume as the committee deals with the tough task of where to seed everybody.
"This is what we talked about before we even came here, getting Seton Hall back on the map to where it was," said Carrington.
Xavier Struggles from the Field
Despite Xavier struggling from the field on the night, in a game where they shot just 34 percent from the field and 63 percent from the charity stripe, they somehow seemed to lose by just four points.
Looking at the percentages, it seems like Xavier should've got blown out against Seton Hall. Instead, the Musketeers forced 25 turnovers against Seton Hall to keep them in the game and make a late comeback, albeit too little too late. Xavier was down by 11 at the half, but used a 53 point second half to come closer to Seton Hall at the end.
Edmond Sumner led all Xavier scorers with 21 points on just 7-23 from the field with nine boards and four assists. Trevon Bluiett had 15 points on the night on 5-11 shooting. The Xavier bench performed well in this one as the bench players totaled 31 points and 20 rebounds.
James Farr had 18 points off the bench on 8-15 from the field but struggled from the free throw line going just 2-7. Farr also added 10 rebounds on the night along with three steals to lead Xavier in rebounding. J.P. Macura had 10 points on 3-8 shooting to go with his three steals and five rebounds before fouling out of the contest.
Xavier seems almost destined as a two seed in the NCAA Tournament, even after the loss to Seton Hall in the semis.
Big East Title Game
While Xavier might have been upset losing, they actually might benefit in the long run. Xavier now has a few days of before the first round of the tournament begins, and just have to wait patiently until Selection Sunday to see where they are seeded and who their opponent is.
For Seton Hall, they will turn right around on Saturday and face a tough Villanova team who is currently ranked third in the nation. The Big East Title game will be at 5:30 P.M. EST and will be aired on FOX.