No. 24 Seton Hall 94, DePaul 73
Wearing a bull's-eye on its back for the first time in 11 years didn't bother No. 24 Seton Hall in the least.
Fuquan Edwin scored 24 of his career-high 28 points in the first half and the Pirates rolled to a 94-73 victory over DePaul on Tuesday night in their first game as a ranked team since 2001.
''Whether we are ranked or not, we still have to go out and take care of business, and we still have to win,'' senior point guard Jordan Theodore said after matching 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.
''It doesn't change anything,'' Theodore said. ''It just puts a target on our back.''
Seton Hall didn't give DePaul (10-6, 1-3) much of a chance to hit it. Led by Edwin, The Hall opened an early nine-point lead, pushed it into the 20s early in the second half and weathered a minor comeback by the Blue Demons in cruising to a win that allowed coach Kevin Willard to empty his bench.
''Coach made sure we knew what's was going on,'' said senior forward Herb Pope, who had 11 points and 13 rebounds. ''He told we had to impose our will early and not give these guys any false hope.''
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 to Edwin, the ball hit the glass and banked in. Theodore laughed.
''The great thing about this team is that I have two seniors who are trying to extend their careers and obviously play at the next level,'' Willard said. ''The rest of them are just freshmen and sophomores. It is really easy to keep freshmen and sophomores grounded.
The most grounded of that group might be Edwin. He is not only scoring but he is the Pirates' top defensive player.
''Everybody seems to be focusing on Jordan and Herb, and I just sneak up,'' said Edwin, who finished 10 of 14 from the field and added nine rebounds on a night that Seton Hall shot 58.7 percent.
Aaron Cosby added a career-high 15 points for Seton Hall.
Brandon Young had 16 points, and Cleveland Melvin and Worrel Clahar 14 apiece for DePaul.
''It's the first time they've been ranked and they came out excited and came after us,'' Young said. ''We didn't take advantage of it. It's very disappointing to play this poorly.''
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.
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. Pirates coach Kevin Willard eventually cleared his bench.
''Theodore played great and we had no answer for him,'' Blue Demons coach Oliver Purnell said. ''He gave us all kinds of trouble and took control of the game in the second half. A great player took over.''
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.