Pirates and Shockers mix it up in key non-league tussle

Wichita, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - The Seton Hall Pirates will face their toughest test so far this season when they contend with the 11th-ranked Wichita State Shockers in a non-conference showdown at Charles Koch Arena on Tuesday.

The Pirates routed Rutgers, 81-54, on Saturday to improve to 7-0, their best start since 2009-10 when they won their first eight games. Seton Hall has not played a true road game yet, winning four times at home and three times during the Paradise Jam. They will come right back home for their next bout with Saint Peter's.

Wichita State bounced back from its first loss of the season, a 69-68 overtime heartbreaker at Utah, by pounding Saint Louis, 81-52. The Shockers are now 5-1 overall, but the loss to the Utes dropped them a bit in the national rankings. They will visit Detroit for their next contest.

These teams met for the first and only time during the 2006 NCAA Tournament. The seventh-seeded Shockers rolled to an 86-66 win over the 10th-seeded Pirates in that matchup.

The outcome was never really in doubt for Seton Hall against Rutgers. The Pirates broke out to lead by as many as 23 points in the first half and as many as 31 in the second en route to the crushing victory. They made 48.3 percent of their shots from the floor, including 10-of-24 from 3-point range, while holding Rutgers to just 30.3 percent accuracy. Isaiah Whitehead made plays all over the court, knocking down 4-of-5 shots from beyond the arc, handing out five assists, logging three steals and scoring a game-high 25 points.

For the season, Whitehead (12.6 ppg, 3.7 apg, 1.6 spg) has not been as potent, but he is still playing at a high level for a freshman. He is second on the team in scoring and first in assist and steals. Sterling Gibbs (17.3 ppg) has been a bit more consistent in terms of scoring, but he took a backseat against Rutgers, finishing with 11 points on just 4-of-12 shooting. Brandon Mobley (10.1 ppg, 1.3 bpg) and Angel Delgado (8.6 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.3 bpg) supplement Whitehead and Gibbs' efforts in the backcourt, by cleaning up the glass and protecting the rim.

Wichita State had an easy time in its last contest as well, running over Saint Louis by sinking 53.8 percent from the floor, including 10-of-18 from 3- point range. The Shockers also claimed an incredible 41-20 edge on the glass, while outscoring the Billikens, 32-10, in the paint. Ron Baker went 6-of-7 from the field to tally 18 points.

Scoring against Wichita State is tough, as the Shockers are letting up only 57.2 points per game on 39.5 percent field goal efficiency. They combined their strong defensive effort with solid play on offense (78.5 ppg, .465 FG percentage). Baker (17.8 ppg) is an excellent shooter, knocking down 50.7 percent from the floor, including an even 50 percent showing from 3-point range. Fred VanVleet (12.5 ppg, 4.5 apg, 2.3 spg) can score, but is more important as the team's top distributor and one of its better defenders. Tekele Cotton (10.8 ppg) and Darius Carter (10.7 ppg) are important contributors as well.