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St. John’s versus Saint Joseph’s: How to watch, preview

The Johnnies get one final test before Big East play.

NCAA Basketball: Iona at St. John Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The St. John’s Red Storm have one contest against Saint Joseph’s Hawks standing before conference play.

On Wednesday night, St. John’s will have an opportunity to win their 10th game out of conference. They have not won at least ten nonconference games since Steve Lavin’s last season. Fans may recall that team participating in the NCAA Tournament.

Game Details

Who: St. John’s Red Storm (9-2) vs. Saint Joseph’s Hawks (5-5)

What: Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase

Where: Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT

When: Wednesday, December 20th, 4:30 PM ET

TV: ESPNU or WatchESPN

Audio: 970 AM WNYM; TuneIn Radio

Last Meeting: Sir’Dominic Pointer’s buzzer beater lifted St. John’s over Saint Joseph’s in the 2013 NIT Second Round by a 63-61 score.

Scouting Saint Joe’s

The Hawks enter Wednesday’s contest having won 3 of their last five. Their best win to date was a home victory over Bucknell, and their worst loss was at Toledo to start the season.

So far this season, the Hawks have had a tough time on offense. Collectively, they have shot 46% from within the arc, and 33% from beyond the perimeter. Those shooting woes have continued on the foul line, as they have only hit 65% of their free throws.

However, Saint Joseph’s has done an excellent job protecting the basketball. Their offense holds the lowest turnover percentage in the nation.

The Hawks are led in scoring by New York native Shavar Newkirk. The senior is averaging about 17 points and four assists per game.

Defensively, the zone defense has let head coach Phil Martelli down. His team has allowed teams to drill three-point field goals with relative ease. Opponents have keyed on the lackluster perimeter defense and shot about 38% from deep. Furthermore, the Hawks struggle to create turnovers, as they tend to have a more bend but don’t break defensive approach. As a result, Saint Joseph’s rebounds very well out of the zone.

Keys to the contest

Defend: St. John’s defense this season has been exceptional, and one of the most significant areas of improvement under coach Chris Mullin. The Red Storm must continue to defend well, as it carries them through offensive droughts. Additionally, the defense is something that travels nicely, something of immense importance for a team that shoots as many three-pointers as St. John’s. For the Johnnies to finish off a Saint Joseph’s team that could hang around, they must hinder their opportunities for good shots.

Shoot the three: Saint Joseph’s has done a poor job of defending the arc this season. This has many opponents willing to air it out from deep. In fact, almost 42% of points scored against the Hawks have been from three-point land. St. John’s will have a chance to improve upon their 34% mark from beyond the arc.

Limit turnovers: The Hawks best chance to score against a tough Red Storm defense is in transition. St. John’s must value the basketball against a Saint Joseph’s team that is not known for creating turnovers. Keeping them out of transition will only improve the Johnnies chances of victory.

Prediction

St. John’s faces a serious test on Wednesday night, one they best not take lightly. Without Marcus LoVett, the task once again will be tougher.

Regardless, Saint Joseph’s is more than beatable. I would anticipate a close first half matchup turn into a comfortable St. John’s victory. The Red Storm defense should be too much for the Hawks.