Game 24: St. John's vs Cincinnati Bearcats

The Red Storm (10-13, 4-7) look to bounce back with a game against that familiar foe, the Cincinnati Bearcats. St. John's bested the Queen City "rivals" back in January with a last-second tip-in by Moe Harkless off of a D`Angelo Harrison shot.

You can bet that the Bearcats, who stifled St. John's in the last 3:00 of the game, will look to defend the H&M (Harrison + Moe) twosome more effectively, especially at the end of what promises to be a close game - like the last 4 meetings.

The Bearcats are losers of 3 of 4, putting their NCAA at-large hopes in slight danger. They will look to earn a second win in a row in Sean Kilpatrick's home area (he's from White Plains, originally).

St. John's wants to wipe the taste of a bitter beating in the Garden that felt like a road game, and invigorate hopes of a late run, and maybe even a surprise NIT or NCAA bid.

Mood Music: The Avalanches, Since I Left You (video, opens in new window)
Tip Off: 7:00 PM, Eastern
Vs: Cincinnati Bearcats (16-7, 6-4 Big East)
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
TV: ESPNU | ESPN3 Radio: Bloomberg 1130 | Sirius 128

Opposition blog/ message board: Bearcats Blog | Down the Drive | Bearcat Talk (message board)

Pomeroy page ($)

See also: Johnnies look to bounce back against familiar Bearcats | 5 questions on the Cincinnati Bearcats: Down the Drive + Bearcats Blog

On the Last Episode...

Cincinnati shot an incredibly poor 26% inside the arc, taking quick, ill-advised shots. Sean Kilpatrick shot 4-15 from outside the arc; Yancy Gates and Cheikh Mbodj missed 8 of 11 shots near the rim in total, and it wasn't until the shots fell late and Jeremiah Davis nailed a corner three that the Bearcats tied the game with 9 seconds to go.

The Harkless happened. #WhyYouGottaBeSoHarkless

Stat note: Point guard play

Phil Greene and Cashmere Wright have been effective scoring guards, despite both struggling in the first Cincinnati game. If either can replicate his recent performances - or do better - that performance will go a long way to tilting the advantage in favor of that guard's team. Cash Wright has been slightly more effective - because he takes/ makes more threes - but Phil Greene has been eerily comparable to the Cincy veteran. (Photos taken from each team's official roster pages)

Last 5 Games
Phil Greene
Player
Cashmere Wright
Phil Greene
Games Started
5
5
Minutes/G
32
36
Points/G
12.2
12.4
FGA
10.6
12.4
FG%
41.5%
45.2%
2P%
31.0%
48.0%
3P%
54.2%
33.3%
3PA/FGA
45.3%
19.4%
Rebounds/G
3.6
3.4
Assists/G
4.6
4.6
Steals/G
1.4
1.8
Tos/G
2.0
2.0
Fouls/G
2.4
1.8

Five Points/ Keys to the Game

Turn the ball over less. Phil Greene faces a challenge in the Bearcats. He's improved, but his five turnovers - 4 in the second half of the first matchup - gave the Bearcats more chances. They went 2/4 from the field after those turnovers, though, so the miscues didn't hurt that much - just a Cash Wright layup and a Ge'Lawn Guyn score at the basket. But Greene and the Johnnies have to protect the ball better.

Keep 'em jump shooting. True to form, the Bearcats looked to attack with the first available shot. St. John's ability to keep them from deep position or good driving lanes relegated the Bearcats to the jump shot. They missed a lot of them the first time, and the Red Storm generally defended their shooters well. St. John's defense convinced them to shoot inside the three-point line - a smart idea.

Better shooting. D`Angelo Harrison shot 5/15 from the field. Harkless shot 6/15. Both have had more explosive performances recently; can they put up more than a combined 32 points?

Body up early. Keeping Yancy Gates from being effective - and rebounding the ball on both ends - is a big key for the team tonight.

Transition scoring. Amir Garrett, Sir`Dominic Pointer, and God`sgift Achiuwa need to get chances in transition to become supplemental scorers to D`Angelo, Moe, and Phil Greene. Their defense will aid in getting them breakaway chances to score, as well.

Prediction: St. John's in a slight surprise, 64-62.

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