GAME NOTES: The Seton Hall Pirates are set to begin a three-game road trip this weekend as they step into the Bradley Center to take on the Marquette Golden Eagles in a Big East Conference matchup on Saturday.
Seton Hall has dropped two straight since opening conference play with a double-overtime victory at Providence on New Year's Eve. Both of those losses came on the Pirates' home floor; a 79-66 setback to Creighton last Saturday and an 83-67 loss to eighth-ranked Villanova this past Wednesday.
Marquette, the preseason Big East favorite, has struggled to build momentum to this point and enters the contest with a 9-7 overall record. The Golden Eagles are coming off Thursday's 86-79 loss at Xavier, but they have won 19 straight conference home games dating back to the 2010-11 season, the fourth-longest streak in the nation.
Marquette has won 11-of-13 meetings in the all-time series with Seton Hall.
Only seven scholarship players dressed for Seton Hall on Wednesday night. Seniors Fuquan Edwin (12.2 ppg) and Eugene Teague (10.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg) missed their fourth and third games, respectively, due to injuries. Shorthanded offensively and on the boards, the Pirates simply could not keep pace with a Villanova squad that knocked down a dozen 3-pointers. The absence of Teague (concussion), the Big East's second-leading rebounder, was particularly troublesome as the Pirates were held to a season-low 24 rebounds. Senior guard Brian Oliver (12.6 ppg) did his best to try and carry the load, finishing with a game-high 20 points behind a 6-of-11 effort from the perimeter. Sterling Gibbs (15.7 ppg) and Patrick Auda (10.4 ppg) each scored 13 in the loss.
For Marquette, senior big man Davante Gardner paces the squad with 14.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per tilt. Gardner has compiled most of his production from the bench, as he has only been moved to the starting lineup for the last two games. Jamil Wilson (11.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg) is the only other player averaging double figures in the scoring column for Marquette. The Golden Eagles are last in the Big East in scoring (71.4 ppg), but they have been solid on the defensive end, limiting foes to a league-best 63.1 ppg on 39.3-percent shooting. At the Bradley Center, visitors have averaged a mere 52.5 ppg. However, the Golden Eagles were not very sharp defensively at Xavier earlier this week as they allowed the Musketeers to shoot 52.2 percent from the floor and hang 86 points on the board. Gardner scored a team-high 19 points in the loss.
The Golden Eagles' preseason hopes have morphed into a reality that they are simply not a finished product. While there is still plenty of time to turn things around, they can ill-afford a loss here on their home floor to a short- handed Seton Hall team.
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