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Seton Hall is back on the road again for two games before Christmas, the first of which is Thursday night in Tampa, Florida where they take on the USF Bulls.
The Pirates bounced back from a tough loss against Wichita State with a relatively easy 67-52 victory over St. Peter’s last Sunday and are hoping to get their first road win in Florida. The Bulls are on a three-game losing streak, the last of which was a 68-63 loss at home against Georgia Southern.
Tipoff is at 7pm EST and you can watch the game on CBS Sports Network or you can listen on AM970 and the Pirate Sports Network at SHUPirates.com.
Here are five things to keep an eye on when the Pirates take on the USF Bulls.
1. Handling the crowd
One thing every player has mentioned since the loss to Wichita State was how loud and intense the atmosphere was. USF, while not likely to be as intense, will still be a difficult venue to play (as will Georgia on Sunday).
So can the team overcome a loud, hostile crowd on the road? It didn’t work out all that well against the Shockers but if they can take what they learned in that game and apply it to Thursday night’s match, the outcome could be different.
These difficult road games have a purpose according to coach Kevin Willard, as he wanted them to get a taste of tough venues like they will see for games like Creighton and Villanova. It’s a great theory, but also a gamble as if they cannot handle it, they could build the wrong type of momentum going into conference play.
2. Contain inside shooting
USF shoots an abysmal 28.8 percent from 3-point range, so they do their damage from the interior. That’s not to say they have nobody who can hit from beyond the arc—Corey Allen Jr. is 15-for-35 this season—but they don’t have a lot of guys who can do it.
The Bulls have enough size to be difficult, especially close to the basket. With Seton Hall’s tendency to run out small lineups, they’ll have to be aggressive in the paint.
The Pirates have done an outstanding job for the majority of the season when it comes to pressing shooters inside, holding them to just 42 percent (Seton Hall is allowing just 38 percent of all shots to score).
Don’t be surprised if Willard tries to mix in 7’1″ Chier Ajou, who will be eligible to play in this game after transferring from Northwestern.
Seton Hall has been very effective keeping teams moving fast and dictating how the tempo goes during games. This was harder to do against Wichita State, and the result was a loss. Will they be able to do it against USF?
The Bulls have had a lot of problems turning the ball over—they’ve lost the ball 143 times compared to their opponents who have only lost 128 balls.
The faster the Pirates can make the game go, the more likely they can force the Bulls to make some bad decisions and turn the ball over.
by Andrew Garda, NJ.com
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