When Big East rivals Seton Hall and Villanova face off Saturday night in Philadelphia, it will mark the first meeting between the programs’ new head coaches, Shaheen Holloway and Kyle Neptune.
Both young coaches have encountered their share of trials and tribulations in Year One, but while Villanova has begun to regain its footing, Seton Hall has the greater chance of the two to play some postseason basketball.
The Pirates (15-10, 8-6 Big East) turned around a 1-4 league start by winning seven of eight games. That stretch was dented Wednesday in a 75-62 home loss to No. 23 Creighton.
Seton Hall shot 50 percent in the first half and held a six-point lead with 16:49 to play, but Creighton shot an unstoppable 13-for-20 in the second half to pull away. The Pirates dropped to 0-6 against the top four teams in the Big East and missed out on a chance at a Quadrant 1 win for their resume.
“It’s frustrating because it’s a game that I thought we had, a game that we needed at home,” Holloway told reporters. “Like I said, for 34 minutes, I thought we played as well as we’ve played in a long time, then the last six minutes, we lost our mind and stopped doing the little things, stopped being disciplined on offense and defense, and it cost us.”
Villanova (11-13, 5-8) stopped its second three-game slide of the conference schedule by handling DePaul 81-65 on Wednesday night, avenging a loss earlier this season.
All five starters scored in double figures, led by Caleb Daniels’ 18 points. Justin Moore — the second-leading scorer of last year’s Final Four team who only made his season debut Jan. 29 after recovering from an Achilles tear — had a season-high 17 points in his fourth outing.
Villanova ranks last in the Big East in assists with 11.2 per game, but those totals have started to rise, with the Wildcats dishing 11 or more in three of the past four games.
“They really share the ball,” Neptune said earlier this month. “They’ve got really good team chemistry. They’ve been playing pretty much the same style. As you grow throughout the season, some teams get much better at what they do, and they’ve gotten much better at what they do.”
Villanova owns an 81-42 all-time series lead and swept the Pirates last season with identical 73-67 victories. The Wildcats have won five straight, with Seton Hall’s last victory coming at the Wells Fargo Center in February 2020.
–Field Level Media