St. John’s and Georgetown was a hallmark of the original Big East. Battles between Chris Mullin and Patrick Ewing epitomized the conference, and took college basketball by storm.
As these two programs prepare to battle on Saturday afternoon, both are significantly worse off than they were back in the early Big East days. Yet, while both teams have struggled these past few years, this matchup remains relevant.
With the stage set at Madison Square Garden, can these rivals add another chapter to their storied history?
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (12-16, 6-9 Big East) vs Georgetown Hoyas (14-14, 5-10 Big East)
What: Big East Conference game
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
When: Saturday, February 25th, 12:00 PM ET
TV: YES Network
*Editor’s Note: Previous statements indicating this contest was on Fox should be disregarded.
Audio: St. John’s TV All-Access will provide free audio for the contest. You can also use Tune In radio, reachable here. Also live game audio can be found on 570 WMCA.
Tickets: Secure your seat for St. John’s latest contest at Madison Square Garden. Those tickets could be found here.
Fun Fact: Under John Thompson, Georgetown secured the first ever Big East Tournament championship. They defeated the Syracuse Orange in the championship tilt. That Big East Tournament was held at the Providence Civic Center.
Coming into this season, many college basketball fans expected Georgetown to be a NCAA Tournament team. With just three games remaining in the regular season, all tournament hopes seem to be long gone.
The Hoyas season took a miserable turn on Wednesday night, as they were defeated at home by last place DePaul. John Thompson III -already on sour terms with many Georgetown fans- has been heavily criticized for his leadership over the Hoyas basketball program.
Although uncertainty surrounds the Hoyas basketball team, the show must go on.
More than anything, ineffective offensive outputs have kept Georgetown down in conference play. KenPom ranks the Hoyas offense second worst in the Big East.
Part of the reason, is that Georgetown struggles with three-point shooting as a team. Collectively in Big East play, they have converted on 32% of their attempts from the perimeter. Although lacking as a unit, Rodney Pryor has established himself as a solid shooter. This season he has averaged almost 18 points per game while shooting 41% from deep.
The Hoyas have also struggled to create second chances, convert on the foul line, and limit their turnovers.
Despite all the negatives, they remain one the nation’s best when it comes to assists per field goal made.
Defensively, Georgetown has also done a nice job this season. The Hoyas clamp opponents down with their man defense, and curb any opposing second chance opportunities. While they aren’t great at creating turnovers, they have consistently forced teams in the Big East to take uncomfortable shots.
Sophomore big man Jessie Govan has anchored the Hoyas defense all season long. This New York product has averaged almost 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 block per contest. He is one of the most versatile big men in the Big East, which doesn’t bode well against a St. John’s team who has struggled against other centers.
Joining Govan in the Georgetown frontcourt is junior Akoy Agau. Since transferring from Louisville, Agau has made an impact with the Hoyas. He is averaging about 5 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 block per contest.
Guard L.J. Peak is another significant contributor on this Hoyas team. As a junior he has averaged 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists per contest. Last time out against St. John’s, Peak tallied 16 points, going 10 for 10 at the foul line that night.
Keys to contest
Shooting the ball well: Almost two months ago the Johnnies were embarrassed by Georgetown at the Verizon Center. In that contest, St. John’s shot an abysmal 28% from the field, including 17% from three-point territory. No team can win a contest shooting that poorly, and St. John’s must avoid another one of these cold outings.
Avoid scoring slumps: On multiple occasions this year, St. John’s has started fast and fallen into an offensive lull. Often they give up big runs amid these struggles, some too large to overcome. The Red Storm have to work on getting easier shots and moving the ball when they are on the wrong end of a huge run.
Don’t fall into early foul trouble: The Hoyas have consistently got to the free-throw line this season. Almost 23% of their total points come from the charity stripe. St. John’s cannot afford early foul issues, especially amongst their big men, as it could hinder the Johnnies interior defense.
St. John’s has struggled mightily on the road, but at home they have been a different team. Just as our friends at Casual Hoya described, Georgetown has hit rock bottom. Expect an urgent Red Storm unit to dispatch of the depleted Hoyas in a close one.
KenPom Prediction: 79-78 St. John’s (50% chance of victory)
Rumble Prediction: 82-79 St. John’s