NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — After getting overlooked in the preseason polls, Jared Rhoden and his Seton Hall teammates decided to do something about it — and they have.
Rhoden scored 18 points and made the go-ahead basket as the No. 23 Pirates knocked off their second top-10 team this season, beating No. 7 Texas 64-60 on Thursday night.
Seton Hall also has an impressive road win at then-No. 4 Michigan on Nov. 16.
“I think it just shows how much people doubted us,” Rhoden said. “You know, we were ranked fifth preseason in the Big East, and I think that it just shows how good of a team we actually are, and how deep we actually are.”
Cold-shooting Bryce Aiken scored five of his 10 points in the final minute, including a clutch 3-pointer, as the Pirates (8-1) won their fifth straight game.
It’s the first time Seton Hall has beaten two non-conference opponents ranked in the top 10 in one season.
“I’ve always thought there are a dozen or so teams that have a chance to win a national championship,” Texas coach Chris Beard said. “They’re one of those teams.”
Alexis Yetna added 12 points and 11 rebounds for Seton Hall in a game that was part of the annual Big East-Big 12 Battle. Myles Cale had 10 points and Tyrese Samuel came off the bench to grab 11 rebounds.
The Pirates held Texas (6-2) scoreless for 7:20 down the stretch and are off to their best start since opening 9-1 in 2017-18.
“They’ve been in four of these one-possession games and tonight that showed,” Beard said. “We just didn’t have enough offense down the stretch.”
Tre Mitchell had season highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds for Texas, which had won five in a row. Foul-plagued Timmy Allen added 17 points and a season-best 12 rebounds.
The second half was close all the way with neither team leading by more than five. Rhoden gave Seton Hall the lead for good at 58-56 with a jumper with 5:30 to go.
Both teams then went ice cold and the next point didn’t come until Samuel hit a free throw with 1:40 left. A layup by Allen got Texas within a point but Aiken, who was 3 of 12 from the field and 0 for 7 from long range, hit a huge 3 from the top of the key for a 62-58 lead with 34.3 seconds remaining.
“Honestly, I don’t even really think that much during the end of the game,” Aiken said. “Those are the (most fun) moments for me. All I know is that at that moment we’ve just got to do whatever we have to do to win. The shot presented itself and I took it. We’re just playing ball at that point.”
After Allen’s layup cut it to two with 24 seconds to go, Aiken added two more free throws with 14.4 seconds left and Texas missed its last couple of shots.
The first half ended 37-all with Yetna hitting a 3 just before the buzzer.
NOTES: Seton Hall played most of the game without center Ike Obiagu, who sprained an ankle. … The win was the 212th at Seton Hall for coach Kevin Willard, tying him with P.J. Carlesimo for second on the school’s all-time list. … Marcus Carr was the only other Longhorns player in double figures with 10 points. … Texas was outscored 17-2 off the bench.
There was a more than five-minute delay with 3:40 left in the second half when the officials went to the scorer’s table to verify the total number of team fouls against each. The Pirates were up two points and they had just committed a foul, which was their sixth. A seventh foul would have put Texas at the free throw line with a chance to tie the game.
Texas: This is a solid, talented team. Its only losses have been to Gonzaga and Seton Hall.
Seton Hall: Upward bound. Its only loss was to No. 21 Ohio State on a late 3-pointer.
Texas: Hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Tuesday night.
Seton Hall: Hosts New Jersey rival Rutgers on Sunday night. The Scarlet Knights stunned No. 1 Purdue on Thursday as Ron Harper Jr. hit a game-winning 3-pointer from just inside halfcourt at the buzzer.
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