St. John's is in search of revenge and respect against the Georgetown Hoyas.
"We got taken to the woodshed in all aspects of the game," Coach Steve Lavin said in the somber aftermath in the Garden after the 67-51 pasting by the Hoyas. "They beat us to the punch from start to finish. It's not really that complicated."
| Tip Off: 4:00 PM Eastern
At: Georgetown Hoyas
(15-4, 5-3 Big East; coach, John Thompson III)
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
TV: CBS Sports | online
Radio: Bloomberg 1130
Announcers: Ian Eagle, Clark Kellogg
The Hoyas finished the first half up 36-19 on the throttled Johnnies, with the Red Storm unable to locate transition opportunities or capitalize on the 10 free throw attempts the team earned. The Red Storm went 6/16 from the line overall and attempted an uncharacteristic 16 three pointers (making 3), fully out of rhythm.
"They came out ready to play with a mentality that we didn't match," Sir`Dominic Pointer added. "This is what happens when you don't come out ready to play. We started off calm."
Expect a decidedly different energy level in the return game as the two teams vie for the third spot in the standings.
With two of the top per-possession defenses in conference play facing off, it may be chippy, physical, and filled with the animosity of classic Hoya/ Redmen bouts.
"That loss left a sour taste in our mouth, and we kept that bottled up inside us," Amir Garrett said today.
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For your popped collar lounge mood: Llorca, "The End"
Scouting St. John's
St. John's kicks off a much rougher stretch of the season, hoping to stay in the top half of the Big East and earn a postseason bid.
The Red Storm are 6-3, third place in the conference, but in need of respect. The recent five-game winning streak has come at the expense of some struggling squads. Are the Red Storm about to face a serious correction? Or are they truly turning the corner, and finding ways to win even when D`Angelo Harrison (18 ppg/ 4.9 rpg in Big East play) struggles, is stifled, or fouls out, as he did against DePaul?
The Johnnies have done it mostly on defense, forcing turnovers on just under 22% of opponent possessions and defending scorers with a mix of length and athleticism, centered around the rim with Chris Obekpa.
On offense, the team doesn't shoot threes - they attempt threes more rarely than all but four teams in the nation. The two-point shooting is streaky, depending on jump shots. A number of games have seen the Storm struggle with 62% free throw shooting, worst in the conference.
Otto Porter and the Hoyas have enjoyed a three-game winning streak (after losing a close game to then 0-4 South Florida on the road) with a win over Louisville, the preseason favorite. Their defense choked the Cardinals (.84 points per possession allowed), the Seton Hall Pirates (.75), and Notre Dame (.86 ppp allowed); they have great defensive shape and are hard to score against.
Jakarr Sampson lamented the shots he missed, saying "I got shots inside the zone that I normally make, the mid-range shot, and I didn't make them. They did a good job with the zone on us, a good job switching, keeping us off-balance. That zone was tough to go against."
Jakarr fouled out of that game in 26 minutes, shooting 5/14 and unable to find comfort in the zone. At times the Hoyas simply took away his driving lanes; other times, they took away opportunities for him to pass when it made sense. All of the switching made him visibly hesitate instead of taking the confident long jump shots he normally takes and, in streaks, makes.
The Hoyas have a tough, disciplined defense, making perimeter shots unappealing and making interior shots contested by their long roster. Georgetown has the league's best defensive rebounding numbers, clearing 70% of opponents' missed shots; second chances are a rarity.
The Hoyas also stopped D`Angelo Harrison by shadowing him with Markel Starks, who kept passes from getting to the electric guard. Without the ball in his hands, Harrison could not score. Since then, the Johnnies have developed other scorers - Jamal Branch, Pointer, Sampson - to take scoring pressure from D`Angelo. Can that trio and Amir Garrett handle the scoring once again?
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Reaching across the aisle
Sir`Dominic Pointer (8.9 ppg) has been hot in Big East play, shooting 71% from the field, including 3 for 5 from beyond the arc. He's also added 6.2 rebounds per game, 2.6 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.1 block on average. The "Cost Co" of St. John's has a little bit of everything the Johnnies need in one place. In the first Georgetown game, he was one of the best players on the floor. Can he be that again?
Three sure things: Porter, Starks, taxes
Lobbying on the floor
The Red Storm want to come out with an edge and create opportunities; expect effort plays from Amir Garrett and Jamal Branch, steal attempts, offensive rebound attempts. Those created opportunities help close the skill gap.
Prediction: St. John's is talented, but so are the Hoyas, who are gaining confidence with their three game winning streak. 61-55 victory for Georgetown with free throws being the difference.