While DePaul coach Oliver Purnell doesn't know the reason why his team has such a tough time coming out to play on the road, he knows it has to stop if the Blue Demons expect to win in the Big East.
"We've played two Big East games at home and came out with fire," Purnell said after his team lost to No. 24 Seton Hall, 94-73, Tuesday night. "But I don't know exactly what happens to this team on the road. Maybe our youth can't handle being on the road. We started poorly and that was the biggest issue. You can't dig yourself a hole against a Top 25 team on the road and expect to come back."
The Blue Demons (10-6, 1-3) fell behind by 20 early in the first half, cut the deficit to nine, but then watched the Pirates pull away for the lopsided win in their first game as a ranked team since 2001.
"It's tough when you don't come out and play hard like we should have," said DePaul sophomore guard Brandon Young, who led the Blue Demons with 16 points. "It's the one thing that has caused us problems. We don't come out playing hard and it's hard to compete and stay aggressive when you're losing."
The Blue Demons had trouble with Seton Hall's Fuquan Edwin. The sophomore scored 24 of his career-high 28 points in the first half in helping the Pirates jump to a 17-point lead.
"Fuquan deserves a lot of credit for the fact he is doing it on the defensive end," Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. "He is putting up fantastic numbers over the last two games but he is even better on defense. The offense is kind of just coming naturally because he is just playing so hard defensively."
Jordan Theodore matched his career bests with 26 points and 11 assists as the Pirates (15-2, 4-1 Big East) won their fourth straight game — all in league play.
Herb Pope had 11 points and 13 rebounds, and Aaron Cosby added a career-high 15 points for Seton Hall, which shot 58.7 percent from the field.
Cleveland Melvin and Worrel Clahar had 14 points apiece for DePaul.
"I think when we fall behind, we get a little shell shocked," Clahar said. "It's tough to play that way. You have to play all out from that point. The pressure doesn't work and it's not the way we usually play defense. We have to come out and execute right away. We knew that they were going to come out fired up, being ranked for the first time. We had an opportunity to do something good and we didn't want to be their next victim."
The Blue Demons, who have lost three of their last four, trailed by 21 points early in the second half and never got within nine the rest of the way.
Edwin hit 9 of 13 shots in the opening half in helping the Pirates take a 17-point halftime lead. He was stuck on his previous career high of 24 until making a 3-pointer late in the second half with his only shot in the final 20 minutes.
The last time the Pirates were ranked was Jan. 30, 2001, and they went on a five-game losing streak immediately after getting into the poll.
Seton Hall made sure that didn't happen this time with a remarkable first half in which even bad shots and non-shots found the hole.
Pope, the Pirates' power forward, banked in a 3-pointer and raised his hands to his head to show he indeed used the glass.
Theodore went one better. Trying to throw a pass off the backboard for an ally-oop to Edwin, the ball hit the glass and banked in. Theodore laughed.
DePaul used a 15-2 spurt to cut the lead to 68-59 on a two free throws by Melvin with 7:56 to go. After Pope was blocked inside, the Blue Demons had a chance to get within six but Young missed from 3-point range.
Theodore took over after that, scoring nine straight Seton Hall points to push the lead to 77-61 with 4:46 to play. Willard eventually cleared his bench.
Edwin was the story in the first half, scoring the Pirates' first eight points and 10 in a game-opening 13-4 spurt. DePaul got within 15-13 but Pope scored seven straight points for The Hall in a 12-2 burst and it was never close again.
DePaul has lost 33 games in a row to ranked opponents. Its last win over a ranked team was against Villanova in 2008.
"I'm not worried about a stat like that," Purnell said of the losing streak. "Every game in the Big East is going to be against a ranked team. We just want to win a Big East game. We can't get down and have to keep trying."
"We know we can beat a lot of the ranked teams if we play like we're capable of playing," Young said. "This is very disappointing."