Believe it or not, St. John's will enter Sunday's contest looking to start a winning streak. On Wednesday night St. John's toppled the DePaul Blue Demons 80-65. The victory over DePaul snapped a 16 game losing streak, giving this St. John's a well deserved win. Following the victory coach Chris Mullin had this to say about his team:
"You don't know exactly how it's going to turn out but the good thing is we have a really good group of kids. It makes it much easier. It's not like I'm making it up. When they come to practice I'm amazed at how much effort they give. Their energy and enthusiasm every day makes everything better."
Now is not the time for St. John's to reminisce about their victory, the Pirates of Seton Hall will bring a potent team to Madison Square Garden on Sunday. St. John's will have the opportunity to gain experience for next season and play spoiler for a Seton Hall team that needs to avoid losing on Sunday, if they want to head back to the NCAA Tournament.
Who: St. John's Red Storm (8-19) vs Seton Hall Pirates (18-7)
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
When: Sunday, February 21st, 12:00 PM
TV: Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports Go (Tim Brando and Tarik Turner will be on the call)
Audio: 570 AM WMCA
Tickets: Plenty of seats remain and can be purchased here.
Last Meeting: Seton Hall pounded St. John's in New Jersey, 79-60.
Fun Fact: Seton Hall last won the Big East Tournament 23 years ago. They routed Syracuse by a score of 103-70 in the 1993 Big East Tournament championship.
Scouting Seton Hall
Seton Hall brings a very dangerous team to New York on Sunday. Coming into this season, head coach Kevin Willard was rumored to be on the hot seat. This season, Seton Hall has shocked many experts and is in a position to secure an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Latest ESPN bracketology projections have the Pirates in the tournament as a 10 seed.
The mood in South Orange, New Jersey on Selection Sunday will be determined by the play of Seton Hall star Isaiah Whitehead. This sophomore phenom has been leading the Pirates through this pivotal season. He has only elevated his game down the stretch for Seton Hall.
Over the last six games, Whitehead has led the team in scoring on five occasions and has lead the team in assists five games in a row. Last time out against Georgetown, Whitehead finished with 22 points and 6 assists. Also during this six game surge he has shot an 59% from behind the arc, bumping his season percentage from 30% to a respectable 37%. During Big East play, Whitehead is averaging about 19 points and 6 assists per contest. St. John's will need to slow down Whitehead, who is arguably the best player in the Big East right now.
Whitehead is not only scoring at a high-level, but he is also getting his teammates fantastic looks at the basket. Desi Rodriguez and Khadeen Carrington are two players flourishing recently in the Seton Hall offense. In the last two contests, Rodriguez is averaging 18 points per game. Rodriguez makes most of his impact on the defensive side, averaging about 2 steals per contest. Rodriguez is currently tied for third in the Big East for most steals, with Georgetown's D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. On the other hand, Carrington is averaging 14 points per game this season. Carrington is shooting 32% from three-point territory this season as well as 75% from the free-throw line.
Seton Hall's big man primary big man this season has been Angel Delgado. He currently averages about 10 points per game while corralling 10 rebounds per contest. Delgado is the premier rebounder in the Big East Conference, with Delgado and Marquette's Henry Ellenson are tied for the most rebounds per game (but Ellenson plays more minutes). St. John's must stay active on the glass and slow down Delgado on Sunday afternoon.
Keys to Game
Having Multiple Johnnies Score: When St. John's offense is at its best, multiple Johnnies are scoring the ball. Against DePaul, the Red Storm had five scorers with 9 or more points. Recently, Butler stormed into Queens and crushed St. John's 89-56. During that contest, only one St. John's player recorded 9 or more points. If St. John's can get guys like Malik Ellison and Felix Balamou scoring in a variety of ways, it will only help St. John's.
Strong Perimeter Defense: Seton Hall is a dangerous three-point shooting team. The Pirates average 6 made three-pointers per game and shoot about 34% from three-point territory. Isaiah Whitehead and Khadeen Carrington are the primary outside shooters on this Seton Hall team. St. John's needs to have the perimeter locked up and force teams to drive on their rim protectors, Yankuba Sima and Kassoum Yakwe.
Crashing the Glass: The three main big men for St. John's are coming off a fantastic rebounding effort against DePaul. Kassoum Yakwe finished with a career-high 11 rebounds, Yankuba Sima finished with 9 rebounds, and Christian Jones tallied 7 rebounds. For the first time since the NJIT game, St. John's out rebounded the opposition. Angel Delgado will be all over the glass as usual, St. John's must match his rebounding performance.
Turnovers: The Johnnies have continued to struggle with turning the ball over. Against DePaul, the Johnnies turned the ball over 18 times which lead to 25 points of turnovers for DePaul. Seton Hall has Desi Rodriguez who loves to create turnovers and get out in transition. Valuing the basketball is a lesson the Johnnies need to learn if they will beat Seton Hall.
St. John's could possibly come out very energetic and playing crisp basketball. Seton Hall doesn't want to fall short of their goal once again. Losing on the road at St. John's has hurt Syracuse's résumé and Seton Hall can't afford taking a hit like this loss to their tournament portfolio. Seton Hall should play with urgency and handled the Johnnies soundly.
Final Prediction: 81-65 Seton Hall
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