The St. John's Red Storm (8-9, 2-4) will face off with USF on Wednesday night at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL. It will be the seventh time the two programs have met since the Big East expanded to 16 teams in 2005.
For a squad that was picked 14th in the conference's preseason coaches' poll, the South Florida Bulls (10-8, 3-2) have come out as a bit of a surprise. Led by senior forward Augustus Gilchrist and junior guard Jawanza Poland, the Bulls seek to reach a Big East record of two games over .500 for the first time in its seven years of league participation.
Head coach Stan Heath has been said to be on the hot seat in Tampa, but nice wins over Cleveland State and Seton Hall may be weathering those discussions... for now.
As we approach Wednesday's tilt between the Johnnies and Bulls, we take a look back at recent games that the two teams have played against one another. As a bit of a spoiler, the Red Storm have fared quite well.
More, below the fold.
March 5, 2011 - St. John's 72, South Florida 56
In what will forever be remembered as the only game the Johnnies have won in the black uniforms, the Red Storm capped an emotional senior night with a solid 72-56 win over the Bulls. After USF led by two points at halftime, the red-hot St. John's team pulled away in the final minutes for its 20th win of a dream season. DJ Kennedy paced the Johnnies with 16 points as just one of four seniors to reach double figures. With the win, the Red Storm finished the regular season tied for third place in the Big East, before ultimately losing two of its three final games.
February 20, 2010 - St. John's 74, South Florida 58
In the midst of a season of disappointing results, the Johnnies went down to Tampa and easily handled USF, 74-58. St. John's, a collection of mostly juniors, won its third out of four in a stretch that included impressive wins over Louisville and Notre Dame. It was one of the few examples throughout the 2009-10 season where the Johnnies showed its competitive potential that would be realized under Coach Steve Lavin. While shutting down a solid USF team led by scorer Dominique Jones, St. John's left with a win backed by 17 points from DJ Kennedy. The Red Storm would go on to defeat UConn in the Big East Tournament and fall to Memphis in the NIT.
February 1, 2009 - St. John's 65, South Florida 48
The 2008-09 Johnnies, who were a team of almost all sophomores at this point, had one of its more impressive performances of the season in a 65-48 victory over USF. The year in which we all thought Paris Horne would become an offensive force continued, as Horne scored 19 points to lead all scorers. The box score doesn't include Anthony Mason Jr.'s name, as it didn't for much of that season due to injury. Quincy Roberts and Rob Thomas, two names of what seems like a long past, provided spark plugs off the bench for Norm Roberts' young team. St. John's went on to finish 6-12 in the Big East and lose to Richmond in the forever-lovable CBI.
February 2, 2008 - St. John's 72, South Florida 58
As we saw a couple weeks ago in Cincinnati, it isn't often that a freshmen-laden squad (especially in the Big East) can win on the road. In its 72-58 win over South Florida, the class that we all became so familiar with grabbed its first-ever win in a Big East "true roadie." So, why did St. John's fans get so excited about Justin Burrell's future when he was a young cub? Games like this. Burrell scored 22 points, which helped his team erase a 16-point first-half hole. When you don't have too much to cheer for throughout the season, it is moments like these that you cherish. I remember the feeling this win gave me as a fan, and I'm sure it gave that young team a similar emotion. Or, you can just remember that day as the day before you found out who David Tyree is. St. John's missed all postseason play altogether that year, including its own conference tournament.
February 7, 2007 - St. John's 66, South Florida 62
WARNING: The names in this brief recap may force you into a small state of over-shock. At worst case, you'll probably just react with a simple "Oh, yeah! I forgot about him!" The Red Storm knocked off USF, 66-62, in the Johnnies 5th Big East win of the season. Led by senior forward Lamont Hamilton and guard Avery Patterson, St. John's gave the Carnesecca Arena crowd an afternoon to enjoy. It didn't happen without some heartache, though. After leading the Bulls 40-19 at half, the Johnnies searched for every and any way possible to blow it. Sometimes, a win's a win. Qa`rraan Calhoun, anyone? Actually, if you don't recall, St. John's had a pretty respectable season in 2006-07. They finished 16-15 (7-9) before giving Marquette a run for their money in the Big East Tournament first round and ultimately missing further postseason action.
January 14, 2006 - St. John's 68, South Florida 49
You know you're going archive digging when the Rumble doesn't even have a recap. In USF's first campaign as a member of the Big East, St. John's traveled down to the Sun Dome and took care of business in a 68-49 win. Anthony Mason Jr. and Eugene Lawrence (both with 13 points) paced the Red Storm to its first conference win of the season. In Norm Roberts' second season at the helm, he found a way to enter 14 total players into this game - some being garbage-timers. Unfortunately for St. John's fans, the pain was only just beginning. The Red Storm finished 12-15 (5-11) and missed the Big East Tournament.
On Wednesday, St. John's looks to improve its Big East record against South Florida to a dominating 7-0.