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Garden Party (Under Armour Reunion Recap)

Robert Cole/ALOST

 

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

 

NEW YORK — It was easy for Seton Hall guard Myles Powell to feed off the energy from his teammates, as the latter were feeding off playing in their “home” arena that makes them step up their respective games to another level.

Powell, from nearby Trenton, N.J., scored seven points in a crucial 40-second span late in the second half to break the game open for the Pirates as they defeated No. 22 Texas Tech 89-79 in the first game of the Under Armour Reunion event at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

Playing in front of Madison Square Garden, where the Pirates play at least once a year during the Big East Tournament, is always going to bring extra emotion for Seton Hall stars Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez, natives of Brooklyn and the Bronx respectively, and the partisan crowd that created a home-game type of atmosphere in the arena only heightened the urgency to deliver the goods in their home city. Powell used that energy, especially when the game was still in the balance late in the second half, to provide the decisive moments of the game; He scored seven points in a 40-second span – a three-pointer, a layup, and then another layup set up by his steal at half court – to turn a six-point Seton Hall lead with just over two minutes remaining into an 86-73 advantage, putting the Red Raiders away.

Powell ended the game with 19 points, four rebounds and four assists while hitting four of his eight three-point attempts.

“I have the best shooter in the country on my team,” said Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard in describing Powell. “Any time he shoots, it looks like it’s going in…Myles is in a great position because he’s playing with four experienced guys. In the second half, he played with a lot of energy, a lot of passion.”

One of those experienced guys Willard was referring to, Carrington, encouraged Powell right before his decisive scoring stretch that he was due to break out at any moment.

“Khadeen just kept coming over to me,” said Powell after the game. “He tapped me on the head and said, ‘ You got a big shot for me.’ So I just kept that in my head and then it was a dead ball; We came to [the sideline] and coach drew up a play for me and I said, ‘this is my time.’ I just stayed level-headed and knocked the shot down.”

It was Rodriguez who led all scorers in the contest with 24 points for Seton Hall (6-1).

Texas Tech (6-1) came into the game, statistically, as the best defense in Division 1, holding opponents to just 33 percent shooting and 55 points per game, but the Pirates were able to shoot over 50 percent (30-of-59) while hitting 11 of their 20 three-point attempts.

“I think in basketball, victory favors the more aggressive team,” said second-year Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard. “In the first half, when we were playing better, I thought we were the more aggressive team. We were driving the ball, we were turning down jump shots to try and get something better. Late in the game, it’s hard to keep doing that because you have to take the first shot when you’re playing come-from-behind offense.

“But, I think I can confidently say without watching the film, Seton Hall was more aggressive than Texas Tech tonight and we have to get that fixed.”

Guard Keenan Evans led five Red Raiders in double figures in scoring with 21 points.

Night Owls

Sometimes, when it’s going good on the basketball court, it’s going real good. So much so, that a 65-foot heave towards the basket for an alley-oop intended for your teammate accidentally goes through the hoop for a three-pointer.

That was Quinton Rose’s night in a nutshell.

The Temple guard hit 10 shots from the floor – including that fortuitous three that was meant to be an alley-oop to teammate Obi Enechionyia – on his way to 24 points as the Owls dominated South Carolina 76-60 in the nightcap of the Under Armour Reunion doubleheader on Thursday.

How is a coach to respond on the sideline when something as fluky as Rose’s three-point “shot” goes through the hoop?

“You want to throw your arms up and be like, ‘What are you kidding?,'” said Temple head coach Fran Dunphy. “But that was obviously a good omen as the night unfolds. Just luck, just flat-out luck.”

That shot was lucky, but Rose’s play tonight, as well as his play to begin the season, has been far from lucky. Rose scored 14 of his points in the first half as the Owls (4-1) opened up an 11-point lead at the half. For Rose, this is his third 20-point scoring game in his first five games this season, including two 20-point games in a row after scoring 21 in a close loss to La Salle on Sunday, and he also had a 19-point performance in the Charleston Classic semifinal win against Auburn.

“Yeah, he did a really good job,” said Dunphy of Rose’s play tonight. “I think he probably took it a little personally about the La Salle game and, obviously, he can score it and he does that, but I thought he handled the ball much, much better tonight. Only had one turnover and we were pleased with that for sure.”

What Dunphy was also pleased with was the career-high 20 points and 10 rebounds from reserve sophomore center Damion Moore, who stepped up tonight when starting center Ernest Aflakpui was saddled with foul trouble all game long.

“All week, I just stayed focused waiting for this game, preparing myself for this game against South Carolina,” said Moore, who put up his first-ever collegiate double-double in a career-high 26 minutes of action.

For the Gamecocks (5-2), the memories of their last appearance at Madison Square Garden, winning two games last March in the East Regional to make it to the 2017 Final Four, seemed light years away as they shot just 38 percent from the field (22-of-58).

“We got thoroughly outplayed today, just as simple as that,” said South Carolina head coach Frank Martin. “Our experienced guys didn’t have one of their better games today and we rely on them to give us positive plays to get the young guys confidence.”

Against a school from his hometown, Philadelphia native David Beatty led all scorers for the Gamecocks tonight, as the freshman guard scored 13 points while coming off of the bench.

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