Right now St. John's (14-9, 4-6) is clearly playing their best basketball of the season and right when head coach Steve Lavin timed it. Lavin stated that this is when his team would get hot, even through their struggles; and now after the 0-5 start in Big East play they have won 5 of the last 6, looking to keep winning and earn a chance at the NCAA Tournament.
A win goes a long way to shoring up a resume with losses to Georgetown, Penn State and no wins over ranked opponents/ teams predicted to be at-arge picks to the NCAA field.
On the other side of the court waits leading Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott, whose explosive scoring carried Creighton to a win over St. John's at home a week and a half ago. He leads his first place Creighton Blue Jays (19-3, 9-1) into MSG for a Sunday night showdown.
Scouting St. John's
St. John's has a golden opportunity in front of them. The team is playing so well and growing every game, this team has the potential to make some noise in the second half of conference play and the Big East tournament.
A win against Creighton would certainly be a resume win and junior Sir`Dominic Pointer knows it. "[Beating] a nationally ranked team would help us out," he said. "It would get us looked at. Our goal is to make the tournament."
The one loss during St. John's hot stretch, starting with the win over Dartmouth was to this Creighton team. The Johnnies stormed back from a 18-point deficit only to be beat by a McDermott three pointer with seconds left. He ended up with 39 - the most points St. John's has given up since Georgetown's Allen Iverson scored 39 in 1996.
Steve Lavin's strategy heading into the last game was to let McDermott get his points because, "great players like that are going to get their points," and take away everybody else. It was a good contest once St. John's roared back late in the second half, but McDermott had one of those games.
As a team, the Blue Jays are third in the nation shooting the three-pointer, making 10.8 a contest at 42.5 percent. It will be very interesting to see what Lavin does against McDermott, who is ready for his first game under the Garden lights.
"I'm really excited," McDermott said. "I've never seen the place, to be honest, except on TV. It's going to be a pretty special moment when we walk in there for the first time. I'm sure everyone on the team feels the same way."
Ethan Wragge - second in Creighton history with 305 three-pointers made - and wing Grant Gibbs, in fifth place in Creighton history with 455 assists - will be large parts of the game as well. Gibbs is the only player who has played in the Garden, logging some minutes at his former program, Gonzaga.
Gibbs also did not face St. John's in the pervious matchup, recovering from a dislocated kneecap. Reserve guard Devin Brooks is from Harlem, and will welcome a trip home.
This is really tough. If St. John's didn't go down so much in the first matchup one could say they would have won. Does McDermott have a other MOP performance? Or does Creighton's solid backcourt and the rest of the supporting cast show up?
St. John's 81 Creighton 77
What's your prediction?
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