SETON HALL ROLLED BY LOUISVILLE AS WILLARD FACES FORMER MENTOR
After a Preston Knowles steal and a Mike Marra three-pointer at the 10:19 mark of the first-half, Louisville was up 24-2 on visiting Seton Hall in a BIG EAST conference game. Kevin Willard had already burned two of his timeouts and used two media timeouts to frantically make adjustments, but nothing was working as the Yum! Center crowd was put into a frenzy by the opening run of the Cardinals.
In those first 9+ minutes, SHU turned the ball over 7 times and missed on 14 of their first 15 field goal attempts. Quite the rude homecoming for Willard, who served as an assistant and associate head coach to Rick Pitino for six seasons at Louisville and is the son of Ralph Willard, the Pitino's current Director of Basketball Operations.
"We got off to a great start," Pitino said afterwards. "A lot of good things happen for you defensively when you get off to a start like that, but believe it or not, there are so many times in a game of basketball when you see a team up 18-2, 19-2, and the other team comes back. We did a very good job of making sure we kept that distance."
The Pirates were never able to get within 12 points the rest of the game and after taking a 36-21 lead at the half, UL quickly pushed the lead to 28 points, 56-28, when Marra connected on three foul shots with 12:19 left in the game.
"It was hard coming back," said Willard. "We knew coming in after the Kentucky game that they would be ready to go and they did a good job at jumping on us and taking advantage of mistakes we made. It's tough to come back when you're down 24-2."
Freshman Fuquan Edwin led SHU with 18 points and 9 rebounds.
"Fuquan has continued to play well all year," said Willard. "He brings a lot of energy in practice. He brings great energy in games. He going to continue to get better as the year goes on."
The Pirates fall to 1-2 in the conference and just 7-8 overall. Next up for SHU is a home date with undefeated Syracuse, Saturday at noon. Seton Hall is 15-44 all-time against the Orange. The Pirates have dropped their last four meetings with the Orange, including an 80-73 setback last year at the Prudential Center. As expected, no rest for the weary in the BIG EAST and the former mentor had some advice for his pupil, whose team has now lost four of their last five games.
"Coach and I talk quite often," said Willard. "He just said keep your head up and keep working. The same thing he always says."
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