Looking like they would be forced to scratch and claw their way off the NCAA Tournament bubble just a few weeks ago, it appears that at the moment, the St. John's Red Storm have done just that.
Back-to-back home wins against Seton Hall and Xavier have given the Red Storm a solid amount of breathing room as they head into the final three games of the regular season.
After the 85-72 win over Seton Hall and the gritty 58-57 win over Xavier on Tuesday night, St. John's has now improved their record to 19-9 overall on the season, and vaulted themselves into fifth place in the Big East with a 8-7 conference record.
Sir`Dominic Pointer scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win over Seton Hall on Saturday, then after being named to his fifth straight Big East Honor Roll on Monday, he dropped 19 points and nine rebounds on Xavier. As St. John's fans can certainly attest to, this exceptional play is nothing new for Pointer on the season.
He has now scored in double figures in 13 straight games, and has recorded five double-doubles in that span as well. Not only has Pointer been one of, if not the main part of the recent success that St. John's has enjoyed, but he is also putting himself in an outstanding position for many conference awards at the end of the season as well.
Red Storm fans also had to be delighted with the pair of bounce back games that Rysheed Jordan enjoyed this past week. After turning the ball over eight times with only four assists in his previous two games, Jordan turned in back-to-back six-assist performances against Seton Hall and Xavier, including just one turnover in those two games combined as well.
Jordan leads the way for a St. John's team that has been distributing the ball wonderfully of late, as they have recorded 34 assists on their 54 made baskets in their last two games.
And while the story of last week for both D`Angelo Harrison and Chris Obekpa was uncertainty due to injuries, it appears as those most of those concerns have evaporated at this point. Harrison scored 12 points on 4-9 shooting on Saturday against the Pirates, including 3-6 from downtown, and he followed that up by scoring 20 of the 58 St. John's points in Monday's win over Xavier.
While scoring only 10 points combined in the past two games, Obekpa was clearly a game-changer for St. John's in both contests. He grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots against Seton Hall, and then helped energize the Johnnies on Monday night after they limped out of the gate to an 11-0 deficit.
Now in fifth place in the hyper-competitive Big East at the moment, St. John's has put themselves on the inside track for an NCAA Tournament berth. With a victory on Saturday afternoon in a rematch with Georgetown, the Red Storm would all but cement themselves into the tournament.
A victory against the Hoyas would give St. John's their fifth top-50 RPI win, and would only benefit their RPI and BPI ranking. Following that they will face a struggling Marquette team on the road Wednesday night.
Tweet of the Week
.@StJohnsBBall is a tournament team. They deserve it. Fun to watch right now.— Kevin Burkhardt (@kevinburkhardt) February 24, 2015