|No. 19 Seton Hall turns attention to Creighton|
The stars came out to the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., Saturday to watch Seton Hall and Georgetown in a Big East battle.
The stars that weren't inside the arena all were aligned outside for the No. 19 Pirates to put on a show and defeat the Hoyas in a game that honored Seton Hall's magical 1992-93 Big East championship team.
"Everyone wanted to win for those guys," Pirates senior center Angel Delgado said. "They're legends. That's what we're trying to be, too."
"It was wonderful; it was surreal," forward Ish Sanogo also told the Asbury Park Press. "To have them come back and say, 'You guys remind us of us' it feels special."
Thanks to a veteran cast led by Delgado, Desi Rodriguez and Khadeen Carrington, this year's Pirates (15-3, 4-1 Big East) are reminding a lot of people of that special team, which included Terry Dehere, Jerry Walker and Arturas Karnishovas, and was coached by P.J. Carlesimo.
Twenty years ago, the Pirates rolled through the regular season and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. But then came Western Kentucky and those honored Saturday still can taste the bitter loss.
While this year's team is honored to be compared to that squad, they have their sights on a bigger prize. But first things first and the challenge of the Creighton Bluejays (14-4, 4-2) on Wednesday night in Omaha, Neb., has Kevin Willard's full attention.
The two played three weeks ago with the Pirates rallying for a 90-84 victory. Delgado led Seton Hall with 18 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.
Both teams put up a clunker this past week; Seton Hall, ranked No. 13 at the time, was walloped by Marquette and lost 84-64 before taking it out on the Hoyas on Saturday.
The Bluejays fell out of The Associated Press Top 25 poll after a loss to No. 10 Xavier.
"Xavier was really good. And we weren't," Bluejays coach Greg McDermott told reporters after the loss. "When that happens in this league -- I don't really care who you're playing, but especially when you're playing somebody as good as Xavier -- you're going to get your tail kicked."
The Bluejays committed an uncharacteristic 20 turnovers. Khyri Thomas, the team's second-leading scorer, had an awful game missing all eight of his field-goal attempts. For just the second time this season, he failed to reach double digits and finished with just four points.
Despite the poor outing, Thomas knows his role and he doesn't plan to change.
"I've really got to keep it moving," Thomas told the Omaha World Herald. "I can't be down on myself and stop shooting 3s."
McDermott's not worried either, after seeing Thomas go through a similar slump earlier in the season.
"I lose sleep over a lot of things, but not that," McDermott said.
Seton Hall's veteran group probably has caused McDermott a sleepless night or two.
"I'm ready for those guys to graduate," McDermott said after the 90-84 Dec. 28 loss to the Pirates. "I might come to their graduation and congratulate them."
One of the best-kept secrets in college basketball, Delgado some time in the next week will become the Big East's all-time leading rebounder, overtaking Derrick Coleman.
He also is the active NCAA leader with 64 career double-doubles, including 14 this year, and is averaging 14.2 points and 11.7 rebounds per game as a senior.
It doesn't get any easier for the Pirates, who return home to host No. 11 Xavier on Saturday while the Pirates hit the road and head to Providence.