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Gametime! St. John's visits the Marquette Golden Eagles

Listen/ See: Robyn, Hang With Me (video, opens in new window)
Tip Off: 9:00 PM, Eastern
At: Marquette Golden Eagles
Location: Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
TV: ESPN U | Radio: Bloomberg 1130 AM
Opposition blog/ message board: Cracked Sidewalks | Anonymous Eagle | MU B Ball | MU Scoop (the esteemed message board)

Preview posts - Q & A with Cracked Sidewalks | Q & A with Anonymous Eagle

Pomeroy page

Last time these two teams met, it was the Big East Tournament, and the Red Storm were high after running the Connecticut Huskies out of the Garden. Norm Roberts' job hung in the balance, and the team was fighting to keeep him employed.

So the Golden Eagles smoked the St. John's Red Storm... for a half. The Johnnies came back to take the lead, only to lose it on a David Cubillan trey and some late game defense.

Before that, you may remember Jimmy Butler's buzzer beating shot in overtime at Carnesecca Arena. Oh, you don't remember that? Here's the video:

Now you remember?

You may not know that St. John's hasn't beaten Marquette in Big East play (since 2005), and in fact, hasn't beaten the Golden Eagles since 1966. Back then, they were the Warriors, St. John's was the Redmen, both had cartoonish big-nosed Native American caricature logos, and Lou Carnesecca roamed the St. John's sidelines. On the other side was former St. John's star-turned-coach Al McGuire.

Speaking of Al, who passed away in January of 2001, the Golden Eagles are honoring him tonight.

Are the Johnnies still on their game? Can prove that they belong in NCAA at-large conversation once again? Can they score points against the defensively overaggressive Marquette Golden Eagles? It's a new year, a new staff, and here's hoping it's not another same old close loss. For more preview, game thread!, and Keys to the Game, keep reading below!

On the Golden Eagles (15-10, 6-6 Big East)

Marquette Positive: They don't turn the ball over. The Golden Eagles are tops in the Big East at protecting the ball. They have tow players who know how to attack without making mistakes in Jimmy Butler - a foul-drawing swingman with a solid jump shot - and Jae Crowder, an excellent versatile forward with outside range and inside game. The team passes well and gets into their offensive sets without much trouble.

Marquette Positive: Outside shooting. The team doesn't shoot a ton of threes, but maybe they should - they hit over 40% of their outside shots. Dwight Buycks and Darius Johnson-Odom are the team's main snipers, but Crowder and Butler will stroke some as well.

Marquette Negative: Can't defend. The heart of the sieve-like defense is inside, where opponents find it easy to get lay ups and dunks in transition (54% on 2-point shots in Big East play), despite the Eagles' athleticism. They get out of good defensive position.

Keys to the Game (from Johnny Jungle)

Get points. The Red Storm have to score one way or another. The team has been good at getting points in transition and abusing aggressive defenses. But the Johnnies have to convert chances into points.

Don’t turn the ball over. Marquette is much better at protecting the ball (turnovers on 15.5% of possessions, 1st in the Big East) that St. John's (TOs on 20.9% of their possessions, 14th in the league). The Johnnies have to protect the ball from a Golden Eagle defense that would love to make a name for itself stealing balls.

Inside play. The Red Storm’s bigs have to make an impact on the game on defense and in transition. They need to do work inside so the Red Storm offense works properly - inside-out, with Justin Brownlee as a threat. D.J. Kennedy and Dwight Hardy's slashing abilities will come in handy as well.

Cover up defensive breakdowns. The Golden Eagles are smart and active on offense. They will abuse defensive lapses and breakdowns by the Red Storm. The wings and point guards - Paris Horne and Malik Boothe specifically - have to be sharp on the perimeter, disrupting Marquette just enough to throw off their rhythm, but not so much that the defenders end up out of position chasing for a steal.

Keep up the road energy. The Johnnies have to attack in this game and take their respect, keeping up the enthusiasm and energy they had in Cincinnati.