Seton Hall forward Desi Rodriguez, left, attempts to block a shot by Rutgers guard Miles Mack during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Rutgers center Kadeem Jack (11) runs into Seton Hall forward Brandon Mobley as he goes up with a shot during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
NEWARK, New Jersey — According to Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, nothing freshman sensation Isaiah Whitehead does on a basketball court catches him off-guard.
If only Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan could say the same.
Whitehead scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the first half to lead the Pirates' 81-54 rout of the Scarlet Knights on Saturday.
"My shot was falling," said Whitehead, who finished 9 for 15 from the floor. "So I kept firing and my teammates kept finding me."
Brandon Mobley added 12 points and Sterling Gibbs 11 for Seton Hall (7-0).
Angel Delgado grabbed 13 rebounds and had 10 points, while Desi Rodriguez had 11 boards.
Whitehead, a highly touted freshman guard from Brooklyn, New York, also led all players with five assists and was named MVP of the rebranded Garden State Hardwood Classic. The Big East and Big 10 programs have an agreement in place to continue the home-and-home series through 2020.
The Pirates are 37-29 all-time against their former Big East rivals.
Myles Mack and Mike Williams each scored 15 points for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights (4-4) have lost three of their last five games.
"This is a bad one," Rutgers forward Kadeem Jack said. "We didn't expect this."
Seton Hall had a 47-27 lead by halftime. After spotting Rutgers the first two baskets of the game, Whitehead scored 12 points and recorded three assists in a nine-minute span to turn the 4-0 deficit into a 30-14 advantage.
"They made us play poorly," Jordan said. "That's a well-coached, talented team. They're quick. They're a perimeter-oriented team and their bigs hurt us on the boards, too. They outworked us.
"We just weren't alert enough."
Despite ranking among the Big Ten's best defensive teams, Rutgers struggled against the Big East program's ball movement and perimeter shooting. Seton Hall routinely drove into the lane, only to kick the ball out for open 3-point shots. The Pirates finished with 48.3 percent shooting from the field and made 10 of 24 from 3.
"I guess they thought we were a great driving team," Whitehead said. "They (may have thought) they had a great game plan. We had a better one."
Rutgers only made 20 of its 66 shots from the field. The Scarlet Knights misfired on 10 of its 13 3-point attempts. Rutgers did make 11 of 16 from the foul line.
Seton Hall grew the lead to 30, 73-43, with 7:33 remaining.
"Obviously, with (Bishop Daniels) out for them they were short-handed," Willard said of Rutgers. "We wanted to press them, create turnovers. I didn't want them to get into their offense.
"I didn't think they matched up well with us."
Rutgers: Rutgers only made 8 of 30 shots in the first half.
Seton Hall: The Pirates shot 60.6 percent in the first half, including 46.2 percent from 3.
"I want these guys...to get used to a Big East schedule. The schedule was designed to get them ready for Big East play. (We're) definitely going to face some adversity Tuesday night (against Wichita State). ...It's as tough a home-court (advantage as there is in the nation). ... They're going to get punched in the mouth Tuesday night." — Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard's analysis of his team's schedule.
Seton Hall travels to Wichita State on Tuesday.
Rutgers hosts New Hampshire on Tuesday.