At 2 pm on ESPN St. John's takes on Marquette, the team who... well... you might remember that painful 63-61 loss at Carnesecca Arena.
Check out previews from Cracked Sidewalks, Statsheet, and I will openly say that I don't think St. John's gets past a motivated and rested Golden Eagles team with a second crack at St. John's. Yesterday's nice win might lead to the NIT... or it might lead to more teeth-gnashing about Norm Roberts' future....
St. John's played very well in the aforementioned first game, but missed a few opportunities - the missed layup by Sean Evans on a breakaway, the poor shooting from outside the arc (28.6%) - but overall shot a solid percentage. But the game turned on Marquette's bothersome defense. The Golden Eagles forced just enough turnovers to keep the game close and then have a chance to pull it out in the end.
And overall, the Eagles actually did a little better on the offensive glass with 13 offensive boards to St. John's 10; and they got to the line 21 times to the Red Storm's 13. Note that St. John's also shot 84.6% from the line (11 makes), better than their average. And Marquette shot 27.8% from beyond the arc, far less than their 40% for the season?
So will the foul shooting falter? Or will the three-point shooting step up for one of the teams?
Keys to the Game
Harass and Defend. The Red Storm have to make everything hard on the Golden Eagles, both to take the team out of its rhythm and to make their legs work – tire them out!
Turnovers. Marquette will convert the turnovers to fast points. In the last game, the team had inopportune turnovers that led to Marquette opportunities. If the Red Storm can match them shot-for-shot, the turnovers that St. John’s commits – and Marquette doesn’t – will be the margin in the game.
Focus, Grit, and Pep. The Red Storm’s game against U Conn brought the question up (to me), why hasn’t played like this in all their games? That kind of play is something St. John’s has been inconsistent at. But if they make a run in the Big East Tourney, they have to be focused and energetic for 40 minutes.
Attack for Rebounds. Marquette’s forwards are undersized hustlers. St. John’s needs to try and own the glass to keep Marquette from second chance station.
Free Throws. The Golden Eagles have many tools in their arsenal. One of them is a great ability to get fouled and shoot some free throws. The Red Storm has to defend without fouling.
Prediction: 64-62, Marquette.