With 6:14 left in the second half the Syracuse faithful had seen enough. Jeremy Hazell had just converted a three-point play off of a fast break putting Seton Hall up by 24. Most of the 21,950 in attendance headed to the exits in disdain as Hazell hosted his own coming out party in the Dome, leading the Pirates to a 90-68 win.
The senior sharp shooter opened the game with a deep 3-pointer from the left wing that sucked the energy out of the building before the game even really started. The Orange were never able to recover from that three point deficit, as the Pirates built upon a lead that would eventually grow to 27 in the second half.
“We had energy in the beginning,” senior guard Scoop Jardine said. “But they took it out of us with the shots that they made.”
Most of those shots came from Hazell and his backcourt partner Jordan Theodore. Hazell continuously knocked down backbreaking jump shots, as he was 10-of-17 from the field including 5-of-10 from long range. Hazell also pulled down nine rebounds to go along with his game-high 28 points, as the Orange were out hustled and out worked in the rebound category 43-38.
While Hazell was doing most of the scoring, Theodore was making sure everything was running smoothly on the offensive end. The junior led the team with seven assists to go with his 19 points. He was on fire from long range as well, shooting 3-of-3 from behind the arc.
Using most of the shot clock on every possession, Theodore was able to penetrate through the Orange’s 2-3 zone and create wide-open shots for his teammates. In return, his teammates responded by shooting 54 percent from the field and 58 percent from 3-point range.
“We were OK with using all 35 seconds of the shot clock,” Willard said. “The more you watch teams take quick shots against their zone the more you get in trouble. The more you make them work it keeps them in the half court, and the better chance you have to win.”
While both teams had similar numbers in the turnovers, blocks, and steals categories, Seton Hall was able to come away with the hustle plays time after time.
“It was us getting the rebounds, the little deflections, steals, hitting that shot and making the extra pass. We did all those things tonight and we came out with the win,” Theodore said. “I really wanted to get this win, I’m tired of losing here and it was just time for us to get a really big win.”
After Tuesday’s night game the Orange’s defensive struggles may be the topic of discussion, but their offense didn’t serve them any better as the team shot a dismal 36 percent from the field and an even worse 23 percent from long range.
“As much as our defense was bad, I think the problems we had in the first half were more offensively,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “We missed about seven or eight shots around the basket.”
After starting the season 18-0, Tuesday night’s loss puts the Orange on a three game losing streak and drops their Big East conference record to 5-3.
“Obviously we have not played well the last three games and I think that when you lose a couple games you lose a little confidence,” Boeheim said. “So much of what we do depends on Scoop, Ricky, Kris, and Brandon and they have not played the way they did early in the year and we’ve got to get them playing better.”
Kris Joseph led the way for the Orange as he pulled down six rebounds to go with his 17 points. Rick Jacksonadded another double-double to his season total as he scored 12 points and grabbed 11 boards. The starting backcourt of Jardine and Brandon Triche accounted for a total of five assists, while each scoring 11 points on a combined 7-of-21 from the field.
“We’re not used to losing and that’s probably why we lost the second one but to lose three in a row is almost like losing to LeMoyne,” Triche said. “It’s just a bad feeling.”