CHICAGO (AP) — Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard wanted to work Myles Powell back into the lineup.
Powell had another idea.
Powell scored 27 points in his return from a concussion, and Seton Hall beat DePaul 74-66 on Monday night in the Big East opener for each school.
“He is the toughest son of a gun there is out there,” Willard said. “Nothing he does, nothing when he comes back, surprises me. I was hoping to get 20 minutes out of him, and he wouldn’t let me take him out.”
Powell missed two games after he got hurt during a 68-48 loss at Rutgers on Dec. 14. But the senior guard looked just fine against the Blue Demons, rallying the Pirates (9-4, 1-0) after a slow start.
Powell went 7 for 15 from the field and 11 for 15 at the line in 34-plus minutes. He had 18 points in the second half, repeatedly driving to the basket and showing no sign of any fear in the wake of what he said was his first concussion.
“Once I kind of got out there I wasn’t really trying to think about that,” he said. “I was just trying to go out there and make winning plays for my teammates.”
Myles Cale had 16 points for Seton Hall, and Jared Rhoden finished with 10. The Pirates shot 52% (14 for 27) in the second half of their third straight victory.
Paul Reed had 17 points and nine rebounds for DePaul (12-2, 0-1), which won each of its meetings with Seton Hall last season by a combined five points. Charlie Moore had 13 points, but finished with eight turnovers.
“One of our critical areas of growth is how we execute on the offensive end and how we share the ball, how we move bodies and how we move the ball,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said. “Particularly when it was needed I thought Seton Hall did a little bit better job of doing that.”
Moore’s two free throws gave the Blue Demons a 66-65 lead with 2:36 left, but the Pirates closed the game with a 9-0 run. Powell sparked the winning sequence with three free throws after he was fouled by freshman Romeo Weems on a 3-point attempt.
“On that particular play he took Romeo’s youthful energy and used it against (him),” Leitao said.
Seton Hall committed 11 turnovers in the first half and trailed by as many as 10 before Powell made two foul shots with 4 seconds left to trim DePaul’s lead to 37-31 at the break.
The Pirates then carried the momentum into the second half. Cale had a 3-pointer and a rebound basket during a 10-3 run that gave Seton Hall its first lead since the opening minutes at 48-45 with 14:21 left.
Seton Hall: Romaro Gill and Ike Obiagu, a pair of 7-foot-2 centers, made life difficult on the Blue Demons inside. Gill blocked four shots, and Obiagu had one.
DePaul: The Blue Demons took some bad shots down the stretch and struggled when the Pirates turned up their intensity.
Seton Hall hosts Georgetown on Friday night.
DePaul hosts Providence on Saturday.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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