Seton Hall was routed by TCU in the first lap

SAN DIEGO — The whistle blew and Jared Rhoden couldn’t believe it. Even Kevin Willard, who stood motionless on the sidelines, couldn’t do it.

A questionable fifth foul, an offensive foul on the Seton Hall star, was called. Rhoden’s night – and probably also his career – was over. The Season of the Pirates was basically at this point too.

It was an apt summary of the night for Seton Hall: anything that could go wrong, did. Rhoden was plagued by dire difficulties. The eighth-ranked Pirates were shoved around on both ends of the floor, embarrassed by No. 9 TCU, 69-42, in a NCAA Tournament South Region first-round game that could become the last game of the Willard-era South Orange.

Amid rumors that Willard is leaving Seton Hall to take the vacant job in Maryland, his team didn’t show up. It fought mightily offensively and offered no resistance on the defensive. It trailed 24 points midway through the second half in by far Seton Hall’s worst performance in the NCAA tournament under Willard as coach. The Pirates made TCU look like a contender for the national championship, falling to 1-5 in the tournament under Willard.

Jared Rhoden (14) defends Eddie Lampkin in the second half.
Jared Rhoden (14) defends Eddie Lampkin in the second half.
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It was a layup line for TCU, owning the suit and beating Seton Hall there 40-14. The Pirates had no answer to TCU star Mike Miles, who had 21 points, or the Horned Frogs’ pick-and-roll, which resulted in frequent open shots near the basket. In what may be his last game at Seton Hall, Rhoden scored just five points on 2 of 7 shots in 17 foul-ridden minutes. Jamir Harris and Myles Cale each had 11 for Seton Hall, who shot 29 percent from the field and were crushed on the glass, 39-26.

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Seton Hall played one of his worst – if not worst – offensive half of the season in the first 20 minutes. It missed 23 of its first 28 shots and at one point had as many turnovers (five) as field goals (five). It finished the half with 21 points, the school’s fewest in 30 NCAA tournament games.

Rhoden missed five of his shots and was in deep trouble. As a team, Seton Hall settled down, making long, contested jump shots and balking at the physical TCU inside. On the other end of the floor, the Big 12 school got their way by forcing their way into the paint and the free-throw line. The Horned Frogs were leading by as much as 13 points on a 16-5 run and seemed poised to blast the game. 3 straight points from Cale and Harris at half time made it a manageable 9 point deficit at the break.

Kevin Willard reacts in the second half.
Kevin Willard reacts in the second half.

The Pirates were lucky to be this close after shooting a miserable 27 percent from the field, attempting just two free throws, committing nine turnovers and being outplayed 14-6 in the Paint.

It didn’t get any better after the break. Willard started Alexis Yetna and Tyrese Samuel over Tray Jackson and Ike Obiagu, but it didn’t matter. Damion Baugh hit a wide-open 3-pointer for TCU, and although Miles caught his third foul and went to the bench, the lead was soon up to a game-high 16. And when Emanuel Miller took out Kadary Richmond and scored on the other, it was 45-25 with 14:12 left.

Somehow things just got worse for Seton Hall. This was a night the entire program would like to forget, and it may well end as the end of Kevin Willard’s hugely successful 12-year stint at the Big East School. Seton Hall was routed by TCU in the first lap


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