At this point last week things were looking pretty bleak for the St. John's Red Storm after they had just been handed their worst loss of the season against Butler. Most fans of this team and most players on the team, even if they would never admit it, knew that a loss in either of their two upcoming games against Creighton and DePaul would have been a major blow to their NCAA Tournament hopes.
But for the first time in over a month, the Red Storm looked like a tournament team in back to back games, first dismantling Creighton over the weekend before hanging on for a nice victory over DePaul last night. The two straight wins mark the first winning streak that the Johnnies have had since they won seven straight back in December, and they have now moved into seventh place in the Big East.
The leading scorer for St. John's this week was D`Angelo Harrison with 33 points last night against DePaul. That game marked the third time that he has surpassed the 30-point mark this season, but the first time he's done it since January 3, and Harrison has now scored 20-plus points in back-to-back games for the first time since mid-January.
It would appear that Harrison is finally back to his dominant self at this point, he's hit 15 of his last 22 shots from the field over his last two games, including a ridiculous 8-12 from 3-point range. Harrison's resurgence could not have come at a better time for this team as they begin a stretch run in Big East play that will decide their tournament hopes.
The star in St. John's Saturday victory over Creighton was Rysheed Jordan, who played what was probably the best game of his collegiate career, scoring a career-high 25 points, grabbing six rebounds, and dishing out four assists. Jordan did not have an outstanding game last night, as he scored 15 points but shot just 2-9 from the field, however he did have four assists and seven rebounds as well.
It seems like Jordan has been playing at a much higher level over the past few weeks, and when you couple that with a finally healthy Harrison it makes the Red Storm backcourt that much better.
And on the injury front, Chris Obekpa played only a few seconds in Saturday's win before leaving with an ankle sprain which would then hold him out of last night's victory as well.
Although the team did win each of their games without him this week, you'd be hard-pressed to find a St. John's fan that doesn't recognize Obekpa's importance to this team in the coming weeks. The Red Storm will have to hope that a rested Obekpa will be ready to go when they tip-off on Saturday against Xavier.
The Week Ahead
The pair of wins this week have boosted the Red Storm's record to 16-8 on the season and have improved their conference record to 5-6. They jumped a struggling Seton Hall team in the Big East standings as well, and they now sit just percentage points behind DePaul for sixth place in the conference.
However despite the success of this past week, it is the next two games that very well may decide the fate of this team's season. They'll face a pair of tough road tests at Xavier on Saturday and at Georgetown on Tuesday. A win in either of those games would be absolutely huge for the St. John's tournament hopes, as just like this point last season, they sit right on the bubble.
Tweet of the Week
I've been critical of Steve Lavin, but he has to get credit for his team's improvement every February. Like clockwork. #sjubb— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) February 12, 2015