No. 10 Seton Hall going for 11th straight as it faces Xavier

How high have the standards gotten at No. 10 Seton Hall?

After Wednesday night’s 64-57 Big East Conference home win over DePaul that kept the Pirates unbeaten in conference play, coach Kevin Willard yelled at his team.

“He said our mentality is not consistent,” sophomore forward Jared Rhoden told the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press. “We pulled off the win, but it was not in Pirate fashion.”

Seton Hall will try to maintain its lead atop the Big East and play more to Willard’s expectations Saturday when it tips off bright and early at 11 a.m. against Xavier at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

At 16-4 overall and 8-0 in the conference, the Pirates have won 10 straight games, their longest winning streak in 27 seasons. But they also know that simply muddling by for a seven-point win against one of the lesser teams in their league won’t move the needle toward a higher seed for the NCAA Tournament.

“Sometimes, teams need to be reminded of not slipping on the little things,” Willard said. “Not that they have, but there’s some things that I’ve been seeing, and I just want to make sure that we stay on top of what we’ve been doing to get to this point.

“This is a great group, they work hard, obviously they play hard. We’re just trying to keep them focused. It’s a tough time of year sometimes.”

But leading scorer Myles Powell made sure DePaul’s challenge wasn’t too tough, scoring 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second half. That included all nine points in a late run that finally pushed Seton Hall over the top.

While the Pirates won when they weren’t at their best, Xavier spent its Wednesday night experiencing another frustrating loss in a season that’s getting away from it. After starting the year as a top 25 team, the Musketeers fell to 13-8 overall and 2-6 in the conference following an 84-82 double overtime home loss to Marquette.

Xavier owned an eight-point lead in the second half, but came up dry offensively down the stretch, enabling the Golden Eagles to rally. Naji Marshall drained a 3-pointer at the end of regulation to force overtime and two free throws late in the first overtime to extend the game another five minutes, but the Musketeers couldn’t hold off the visitors.

“That’s a gut-wrenching loss for us,” Xavier coach Travis Steele said. “We’ve got to pick ourselves up off the mat on Saturday. Seton Hall’s not going to feel sorry for us.”

The Musketeers cost themselves the game with 11 of 25 foul shooting, going 4 of 11 in the second half and 4 of 8 in overtime.

–Field Level Media

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