NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Seton Hall guard Kadary Richmond was in a zone like he’s never been before. His coach tweaked the offensive game plan, and his teammates just kept feeding him the ball Saturday.
Richmond scored a career-high 27 points, including 17 straight for the No. 24 Pirates in the second half and then the go-ahead basket in overtime during a 90-87 win over Connecticut.
“What I like about this team is everyone knew he was cooking, so it was just get out of his way and let him go,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “And he just had a really good rhythm.”
Jarden Rhoden had 15 points and six rebounds for Seton Hall (11-3, 2-2 Big East). He stole the ball from Tyrese Martin with 2.6 seconds left in OT and Bryce Aiken sealed the win with a pair of free throws, giving him 22 points.
“When a guy is going like that, you have to give him the ball,” said Rhoden, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. “We’ve seen stretches in practice where Kadary’s taken over practice with his ball skills and playmaking ability, so for him to do it actually scoring the ball, it was a sight to see.”
Richmond had only two points in the first half. The Pirates trailed 54-45 with 16:01 left when the sophomore took over with a scoring spree, capped by a 3-pointer that put them ahead 62-61 with 11:48 to go.
Richmond shot 10 for 13 overall from the field.
“I haven’t (ever) been in a zone like that,” Richmond said. “Today was the first day I broke out and got loose, and it felt good.”
Both teams found their rhythm early despite undergoing recent COVID-19 pauses.
UConn coach Dan Hurley said earlier in the week he expected his team would come out sluggish in the first half.
“That’s why I should never say anything. I should have just come here, showed up and played," he quipped.
Playing for the first time in two weeks, UConn (10-4, 1-2) shot 55 percent overall in the first half.
Adama Sanogo scored 18 points and had 16 rebounds for the Huskies. R.J. Cole added 15 points before fouling out.
UConn: Following a 17-day gap between games due to COVID-19 issues, UConn clearly has the makings of a Top 25 team that can compete for the Big East Title.
Seton Hall: Following an 0-2 start in Big East play after ascending to No. 15, the Pirates are back to .500 in the conference. Through their COVID-19 concerns that forced a two-week gap in December, they look like a team poised to compete for the Big East title.
The Pirates nearly fell out of Top 25, but could start climbing again after two straight wins. UConn, meanwhile, might receive some votes again, but won’t be cracking the poll.
COVID PAUSES COMPLETE
Seton Hall was back at full strength for the second straight game following nearly three weeks after a full practice due to COVID-19 concerns. Ike Obiagu and Tyrese Samuel were out due to COVID-19 protocol, along with three freshmen and a walk-on, leaving the Pirates with eight scholarship players.
UConn: Hosts St. John’s on Wednesday.
Seton Hall: At DePaul on Thursday.
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