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Game Preview: St. John's vs Marquette

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Johnnies face the Marquette Golden Eagles this upcoming Saturday as they look to snap a 9-game losing streak and win their first Big East game of the season. St. John's is 7-12 overall, 0-6 in Big East play, and the predictions of a season that feels long have come true, despite the talents on the roster.

This will be the Red Storm's second meeting in two weeks vs the Golden Eagles.

This week, Coach Mullin preached focus for his team. "It's really about being focused on the personnel and the game plan," Mullin said." Being able to go out there and carry it out".

All hands need to be on deck - and the defense needs to click - for the Johnnies to get out of this game vs Marquette with a victory. The Golden Eagles come into this game 12-7 overall, 2-5 in Big East play. They're riding a 3 game losing streak, losing 5 of their last 7 overall.

Game information/ how to watch St. John's vs. Marquette

Who: St. John's vs Marquette

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY.

When: Saturday, January 23rd, 8:00pm EST.

TV: CBS Sports Network

Radio: 510 AM WMCA

Twitter: Follow @rumbleSBN for updates.

Last Meeting: 81-75 home win for Marquette.

Scouting Marquette:

The Golden Eagles are led by 6'10" 245 pound freshman forward Henry Ellenson and 6'11" 245 pound junior forward Luke Fischer. Ellenson leads the team in scoring (15.7) and rebounding (9.5). Fischer is second on the team in scoring (13.2) and second on the team in rebounding (7.1). Marquette goes inside early and often as they usually have the advantage in the low post area with Ellenson and Fischer leading the charge.

Overall the Golden Eagles have four players averaging double figures in scoring. Sophomore guard Duane Wilson is third on the team in scoring (12.6), freshman guard Haanif Cheatham is fourth on the team in scoring (10.8). Together Ellenson, Fischer, Wilson, and Cheatham account for 52.3 of the team's 76 points per game.

The Golden Eagles are very active on defense and they love to share the basketball. Coming into this game they lead the Big East in steals per game (8.47) and assists per game (17.3). The Golden Eagles rank 4th in the Big East in rebounding (37.6) and 4th in the Big East in 2-point field goal percentage (51.6 percent). Most of the Golden Eagles points come from inside the three-point line. As a team they're ranked (7th) in the Big East in three-point shooting (32 percent).

Keys to the game:

Kassoum Yakwe/Christian Jones vs Henry Ellenson/Luke Fischer

This game will be won in the low post area.

Marquette clearly has the advantage going into this game with Ellenson and Fischer. The Johnnies will need a big effort from Kassoum Yakwe and Christian Jones to have a chance to win this game. As a team the Johnnies lead the Big East in blocks per game (6.11), most of which are accounted for by Kassoum Yakwe who leads Big East play with 17 blocks. Yakwe needs to man the low post area and keep Ellenson off the glass. Whether it's altering shots, playing lock down defense, and rebounding the basketball, Yakwe has to do it all and keep the defensive intensity going throughout the game.

Christian Jones needs to match up with Luke Fischer. It won't be easy for Jones as Fischer has the clear height advantage, but Jones has the weight and athleticism to match Fischer. Yakwe and Jones have to stay away from foul trouble because the Johnnies lack depth in the front court.

Yakwe had a career game last time out vs Marquette as he scored 9 points, blocked a career high 6 shots, and collected a career high 11 rebounds. Ellenson and Fischer combined for 33 points and 12 rebounds to lift Marquette over the Johnnies.

Improved Shooting

The Johnnies rank dead last in all but 1 (three-point percentage) offensive categories in Big East play. To win this game the Johnnies need to improve on their overall shooting. That means taking better shots and moving the ball without getting stagnant. In their last game vs Marquette, the Johnnies had their best offensive output in Big East play.

As a team they shot 45.2 percent from the field, 45.8 percent from the three-point line, made 11 three-point shots, and scored 75 points. The Johnnies have to match that effort and go a step higher to have a chance to beat Marquette. Whether it's making more three-point shots, taking advantage of any open looks they get, they simply have to connect on their shots and create extra chance opportunities on the offensive end.

Starting Fast

The Johnnies have to start fast vs Marquette. The Johnnies got off to a slow start in their last 2 games vs Butler and Georgetown. They were down 17 at halftime vs Georgetown and 14 at halftime vs Butler. Johnnies failed to establish any offensive rhythm early on in the first half and dug themselves to deep a hole to climb out of in the second half of both games.

Federico Mussini understands what the Johnnies have to do to win this game.

"We know we can win and we showed it in the last game against them," Mussini said. "We were up for most of the time, and we were up by 10, too. We just need to stay focused and play hard for the whole 40 minutes and have no empty possessions or turnovers."

Mussini and senior guard Felix Balamou need to run the offense without committing turnovers. Balanced scoring will be key for the Johnnies to beat Marquette. Both Mussini and Balamou need to attack the rim and set their teammates up with good looks at the basket. Johnnies can't afford to go down double digits at halftime for the third straight game and expect anything other than a loss. Starting fast and establishing an offensive rhythm early will go a long way to deciding this game.

Prediction:

The extra rest should do the Johnnies some good. Marquette will be playing their 2nd game in 4 days. The Johnnies played well in their last game at Marquette, since then they were blown out by both Georgetown and Butler. I expect the Johnnies to get off to a fast start in this game and tighten up their defense early.

Led by Kassoum Yakwe and Federico Mussini the Johnnies snap their 9 game losing streak and win their first Big East game of the season 71-67.