March 13, 2014
By Richard Finn
Special to BIGEAST.com
NEW YORK - How do you turn around a 17 point loss to the same team in just four days?
If you are Seton Hall and are playing Butler in the first round of the BIG EAST tournament presented by NEW YORK LIFE on Wednesday after being blown out by the Bulldogs 71-54 on Saturday, you do all of the following for a 51-50 victory.
You raise the intensity level to play a full 40 minutes, knowing that you either win or go home.
"The guys came out focused. it is the BIG EAST tournament and if you can't get up for the BIG EAST Tournament there is something wrong," said Pirates coach Kevin Willard. "I'm proud of my guys."
Seton Hall (16-16) will do another quick turnaround and be back on the court on Thursday at 12:00 noon to take on top-seeded Villanova in the quarterfinals.
You change the venue by several hundred miles from an unfamiliar Hinkle Fieldhouse to the more comfortable surroundings of Madison Square Garden.
You make a few offensive adjustments and get a shutdown defensive effort on Butler guard Kellen Dunham - who scored a game-high 29 points in the last game - and this time hold him to just four points.
"These guys always bounce back," said Willard. "We looked back and saw our mistakes and said, look, if we correct these, we'll have a pretty good chance.
"We were going to give up jumpers to (Khyle) Marshall and maybe jumpers to (Alex) Barlow which we did," said Willard. "But he (Dunham) just killed us last time. You let him get going, and you are going to be in for a long night."
Marshall finished with 22 points. Barlow had only 3 points.
Butler coach Brandon Miller complimented the Pirates on their revised defensive scheme that throttled Dunham throughout the game.
"They didn't lose Kellen on defense, especially early in the game," Miller said of Dunham, who was held scoreless in the first half. "They had a much better awareness of where he was. That would be the biggest difference."
The Pirates also put in a few new plays and got balanced scoring from Eugene Teague (14 points) and Brian Oliver and Fuguan Edwin with 10 each.
And you survive a frenzied final 60 seconds clinging to a 1 point lead and watch a last second half-court attempt by Barlow bang off the backboard.
"There's been enough shots made in this tournament, you just sit here and say, hopefully, this isn't one of those," said Willard.