NEWARK, N.J. - Junior guard Jamel Jackson nailed 12 3-point shots and finished with 40 points to lead Seton Hall to a 134-107 victory over Virginia Military Institute Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 6,012 spectators at Prudential Center.
The Pirates of the Big East Conference ran their record to 8-0 while the Keydets sustained back-to-back losses for the first time this season and fell to 4-5.
Seton Hall, behind Jackson's 14-of-17 shooting from the field and 12-of-15 beyond the arc, scorched the nets with 20 treys in 35 attempts on the day and shot almost as well from 3-point range (57.1%) as they did from the field (57.8%).
VMI was paced in scoring by junior guard Austin Kenon who produced his second consecutive 20+ point scoring game and finished with 24 points, including five 3-point goals. Sophomore guard Michael Sparks tossed in five 3-pointers and scored 19 points while sophomore guard Ron Burks scored 18 points going four-of-five from long range.
Seton Hall got additional double-figures scoring efforts from junior guard Jeremy Hazell (33 points, 12 rebounds, six 3-pointers), junior forward Robert Mitchell (18 points, 9-of-15 shooting), and 15 points and 20 rebounds from sophomore forward Herb Pope.
VMI redshirt sophomore center Stephen Sargent made his first career start and finished with a season-best eight points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes of action.
The Keydets led just once in the game when Burks opened up the scoring with a three-pointer 40 seconds from the opening tip. The Pirates responded with an 11-2 run with guard Eugene Harvey fueling the surge with six points. Seton Hall gradually built its lead behind its perimeter assault and Jackson went 8-for-8 beyond the arc when he nailed a 3-pointer with 2:53 left in the half to give the Pirates their biggest lead of the half, 61-37.
Jackson would prove human on his next 3-point try, missing his first from long-range at the 2:00 mark while VMI ended the half on a 14-3 run to trail by 13 points, 64-51 at the half. The Keydets were sparked by Burks and Kenon with each contributing five points on the run.
VMI converted a back-door slam to Sargent to open the scoring in the second half and pull the Keydets within 11 points, 64-53, the slimmest margin since the 9:44 mark of the opening half. But the Pirate three-point barrage resumed as Seton Hall ran off a 29-9 run over the next five minutes to push the lead to 30 points, 94-64, on a Ferrakohn Hall layup with 14:44 left.
The Keydets would never threaten the rest of the way and could come no closer than 23 points when sophomore guard Keith Gabriel knocked down a pair of free throws with 7:52 left.
The 134 points were the most allowed in school history, surpassing the 129 points VMI gave up on three occasions, the latest a 129-111 loss at Penn State on December 30, 2006.
VMI will break for exams and resume action on Tuesday, December 22, when it faces George Mason at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va. Tip-off is 7:00 p.m.
QUOTES - VMI Head Coach Duggar Baucom
"It was hard to overcome shooting like that. We always say if teams hit 3's on us, that gives us fits. But to shoot 57% (from 3-point range) - wow, that's amazing. (Jackson) is the only true shooter. When it's your day, it's your day. I think he came in only averaging seven points. Hazell can also score."
"I was proud of my guys. I thought they played extremely hard and kept competing."
"Keith (Gabriel) didn't shoot it extremely well and we'll have to get that straightened out, but Michael (Sparks) continues to shoot it well along with Austin Kenon, and Ron Burks shot it well today. We had those things going for us. Stephen Sargent is providing a post presence that we haven't had. Eight points, seven rebounds and an assist for him against Big East competition is not too bad. He's a big body with a big presence and we're pleased with his progress."
"We shot decent percentages and scored 107 points on a Big East team, and everyone who took the floor contributed."