NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Jordan Theodore started talking about his last chance to play in an NCAA tournament in the preseason. The senior guard wants desperately to be part of the field of 68.
On Tuesday night, he was nearly perfect in helping Seton Hall get the signature win it needed for its NCAA tournament resume. He had a career-high 29 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including making all five 3-point attempts, in a 73-55 victory over No. 9 Georgetown on Tuesday night.
“We just needed this one so bad. I was jacked up for this game,” said Theodore, who also had five assists and four rebounds. “I didn’t want to blow another opportunity like we did my sophomore year when we were on the bubble. I have a little experience in being on the bubble. I want to dance so bad. I can taste it we’re so close.
The Pirates (19-9, 8-8 Big East), whose best win this season was over Connecticut on Jan. 3, have two games remaining — Rutgers and DePaul — to solidify what would be their first NCAA tournament bid since 2006. Their RPI is in the high 30s and it never hurts to be from the Big East, which a record 11 teams in the field last season.
Still, nothing is official until Selection Sunday.
“What could be better than having a game like this with your fate in your hands,” said Herb Pope, Seton Hall’s other senior. “We stayed solid. We shot terrific today.”
Then he started talking about Theodore.
“That’s my little brother and we’re going out together,” Pope said. “We moved one inch closer to our goal. He came out on fire and we rode the wave.”
Seton Hall put on quite a shooting performance against one of the conference’s best defensive teams. They shot 61.0 percent (25 for 41), the best against the Hoyas this season and only the third time any team shot 50 percent or better. Georgetown (20-6, 10-5) came in allowing 38.4 percent shooting this season.
Seton Hall finished 8 of 13 (61.5 percent) from 3-point range, and that came against a team that was allowing 27.6 percent from beyond the arc this season. The previous best effort from 3-point range against Georgetown was 44.4 percent by Marquette, the only time any team shot better than 40 percent.
“We thought we play pretty good perimeter defense, but we were atrocious tonight,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “They hit some shots early and we got frustrated early and that frustration carried over to our offense. That was the crux of everything.
“We didn’t find a way to make their shots difficult. They shot the cover off it and we didn’t respond.”
Theodore, who has talked about making the tournament for the first time since the preseason, and fellow senior Herb Pope dominated the run that gave the Pirates a 58-40 lead with 7:53 to play. They combined to score 10 of the Pirates’ 12 points in the run that gave them the 18-point lead.
Greg Whittington had nine points to lead the Hoyas, who had won four of five and who would have clinched a first-round bye in the Big East tournament with a win. Georgetown struggled offensively as well, finishing 19 of 47 (40.4 percent) from the field, including 5 of 15 from 3-point range. It was the first time this season the Hoyas failed to have a player reach double figures.
Fuquan Edwin and Brandon Mobley both had 10 points for Seton Hall, which led by as many as 22 points late in the game.
No. 7 NORTH CAROLINA 86,
N.C. STATE 74
RALEIGH, N.C. — Kendall Marshall had a career-high 22 points and 13 assists.
Harrison Barnes added 20 points for the Tar Heels (24-4, 11-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who extended their domination of their nearby rivals. North Carolina has won 12 straight meetings and hasn’t lost to the Wolfpack (18-10, 7-6) in five years.
The Tar Heels shot 51 percent, including 10 for 19 from 3-point range. And Marshall was a big reason for that success, whether he was knocking down outside shots against sagging defenders or finding teammates for baskets.
C.J. Leslie had a career-high 24 points to go with 12 rebounds for N.C. State, while Lorenzo Brown had 18 points. But the Wolfpack just couldn’t keep up with the Tar Heels.
No. 8 OHIO STATE 83,
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Deshaun Thomas scored 19 points and No. 8 Ohio State regained its shooting touch, shooting 65 percent from the field.
William Buford, much maligned for his recent poor shooting, had 17 points, and Aaron Craft added 11 to go with five assists. Jared Sullinger, third in the conference at 17.5 points a game, managed just nine before fouling out.
The Buckeyes (23-5, 11-4) stayed on the heels of Big Ten leader Michigan State with three games remaining. The Spartans are 11-3 in league play heading into a game at Minnesota on Wednesday night. Ohio State will visit Michigan State in the regular-season finale on March 4.
Meyers Leonard had 21 for Illinois (16-12, 5-10), which has lost six in a row and nine of 10.
No. 11 MICHIGAN 67,
NORTHWESTERN 55 OT
EVANSTON, Ill. — Trey Burke, Zack Novak and Stu Douglass hit 3-pointers to start overtime Tuesday night and No. 11 Michigan won its fourth straight.
Burke scored 19 to lead the Wolverines (21-7, 11-4 Big Ten), who made 14 3-pointers and kept their Big Ten title hopes alive with a well-earned road victory.
Northwestern (16-11, 6-9), whose chances of getting to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history were dealt another blow, got 14 points from John Shurna, six below his Big Ten-leading average.
Shurna became the school’s career scoring leader on Saturday, but managed only four points after halftime Tuesday night.
No. 12 FLORIDA 63,
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Kenny Boynton scored 20 points and No. 12 Florida used a hot-shooting night and a huge run in the second-half to overcome 18 turnovers and beat Auburn 63-47 Tuesday night.
But the victory may have been costly for the Gators (22-6, 10-3 Southeastern Conference).
Yeguete, one of the team’s best rebounders and the heart and soul of coach Billy Donovan’s full-court press, broke his left foot midway through the second half against Auburn (14-13, 4-9).
X-rays confirmed the severity of the injury after the game.