NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Jordan Theodore didn't look like a player who missed all six shots he took.
The senior point guard finished with three points, 10 assists, five rebounds, three steals and just two turnovers as Seton Hall beat Auburn 81-59 on Friday night in the Big East/SEC Challenge.
"I had a smile on my face all game," Theodore said in an upbeat locker room. "I knew that they were keying on me. They didn't want me to drive and get my shots off but I really made an effort to get guys involved early and it worked out perfect. We kept moving the ball, moving the ball and we got a lot of good looks."
Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said he thought it was Theodore's best game during a season in which he's averaging 17.5 points and 6.7 assists.
"I thought Jordan really made some great decisions early in not forcing shots and picking out the right guys," Willard said. "That was the key to getting off to a good start."
Once the Pirates were off to the good start they stayed well ahead by dominating the backboards and matching their best effort of the season from 3-point range.
Herb Pope had 23 points and 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season for the Pirates (6-1), who finished with a 40-26 rebound advantage overall and 14-6 on the offensive end.
"Coach shook things up a little. We came out from the start with a little more energy. We were more energetic and ready to go," Pope said. "We wanted to come out and dictate the game right away. The defense got us points. We played a much better team and that helped."
Patrik Auda had a career-high 17 points for Seton Hall, while Fuquan Edwin added 14 points and nine rebounds and freshman Aaron Cosby had 13 points, all but one on 3-pointers.
"I've been telling everybody our young guys can shoot," Theodore said. "You saw them shoot tonight."
Seton Hall was 28 of 60 from the field (46.7 percent), including going 10 of 24 on 3s. Auburn struggled from long range, going 3 of 16.
"I thought we took only two bad 3s all game," Willard said. "The right guys were taking the right amount. That's a huge difference on 3s, plus 21. You can win a lot of college games with that."
Rob Chubb had 12 points for Auburn (4-1), which was playing its first road game of the season. Josh Wallace and Kenny Gabriel added 11 each.
"I don't mind saying I told you so, but I told them so," Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. "They're playing down to the competition. We haven't been ready for this level of competition, facing a Big East team. I told them that not being ready was going to come back and bite them and it did tonight. Maybe a game like this will get their attention. We got exposed a little tonight. We needed something like this to wake our guys up. We need some toughness and nastiness. Seton Hall just came out tonight and punched us in the mouth and we did nothing."
The Pirates took a 38-31 halftime lead despite Auburn shooting 60.9 percent (14 of 23) from the field. Seton Hall was 6 of 14 from 3-point range in the opening half and had eight offensive rebounds to none for the Tigers. The Pirates turned those opportunities into 11 second-chance points.
Chubb dunked to get the Tigers within 44-37 with 15:57 to play. The Pirates' next two baskets were on offensive rebounds and they pulled away from there, taking a lead as large as 74-50 on a 3 by Auda with 4:37 to play.
The Pirates started the season 3 for 31 from 3-point range at the Prudential Center, their home court.
"We made shots early and that was big. Our defense turned it up and that was big as well," Edwin said. "I think the key to the start was knocking down the 3s. It gave us confidence. From now on, we'll play harder on defense and that will definitely help."
Pope, who was 10 of 19 from the field, had the 25th double-double of his career.
"I think we all just felt better about ourselves tonight," Pope said. "We let our defense dictate the offense. It was the first time we did that at home. We played tough defense and ran away with the game. We won the game on the defensive end."
Chubb agreed with his coach on how the Tigers started the game.
"They came out with more intensity. We've been playing down to the level of our competition and we don't know how to handle it," he said. "Coach is trying to get us prepared mentally and we're just not listening. We've got to move on."
This was the first meeting between the schools.
|Seton Hall (6-1) «||38||43||81|
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|K. Gabriel, F||34||4-10||2-4||6||0||3||11|
|A. Payne, F||15||0-0||0-0||0||0||1||0|
|R. Chubb, C||28||6-8||0-0||6||0||3||12|
|F. Sullivan, G||36||3-15||1-2||6||3||2||7|
|V. Ward, G||26||2-4||3-7||2||3||2||9|
|Seton Hall Pirates|
|F. Edwin, F||34||6-10||0-0||9||2||3||14|
|H. Pope, F||31||10-19||3-3||12||2||1||23|
|P. Auda, F||26||4-6||7-7||5||0||4||17|
|J. Theodore, G||35||0-6||3-4||5||10||3||3|
|A. Cosby, G||33||4-11||1-2||4||3||0||13|