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St. John’s at Creighton - how to watch, listen, and keys to contest

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NCAA Basketball: Creighton at Villanova Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve been hearing this narrative that St. John’s is good at home - or at least competitive - and not good on the road.

Tonight, of course, is the Red Storm’s final road game of the season, a game at Creighton - where last year, Chris Mullin was tossed for arguing with the referees in a 100-59 blowout [you can relive the magic too].

While not the revenge tour some might have preferred coming into this season, the Red Storm have seven conference wins and are far more competitive than last year’s single-win squad. But despite the improvements, Creighton manhandled St. John’s in their first meeting and are a formidable foe at home, with their raucous arena and rabid fanbase.

This time, St. John’s is a little more wise after 16 Big East games, but might be without center Tariq Owens, a game time decision with an ankle injury suffered in the previous game.

Is a third Big East road win possible for the Red Storm against a weakened Creighton team?

Game Details

Who: St. John’s Red Storm (13-16, 7-9 Big East) vs Creighton Bluejays (22-7, 9-7 Big East)

What: Big East Conference game

Where: CenturyLink Center, Omaha, NE

When: Tuesday, February 28th, 8:00 PM ET

TV: CBS Sports Network

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.

Scouting Creighton

Creighton, who will be celebrating their seniors tonight, is a strong offensive team - but could be vulnerable. And not just because Doug McDermott’s team is coming off of two consecutive losses, and four of six since winning at Butler

If you didn’t know, Maurice Watson, the senior point guard from Creighton, tore his ACL in January, ending his career as the catalyst for a high-scoring Creighton attack, one with a single loss to Villanova, one that looked like a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament.

[And if you didn’t know, Watson, during his recovery, has been accused of the rape of a fellow student and likely won’t be at tonight’s senior day festivities.]

St. John’s was bruised by players other than Watson in the first meeting, however, despite Watson’s 19 points.

Star freshman center Justin Patton, who has intrigued NBA scouts, according to reports, enjoyed his season-high scoring performance against St. John’s with 25 points. Marcus Foster started the game with a dunk and ended with 15 points. Khyri Thomas had a solid game as well.

Since the loss of Watson, the Bluejays have gone 4-6, giving more time to freshman guard Davion Mintz as a starter; two of those wins have been over DePaul, but one win has been over Butler. Marcus Foster, the high-scoring guard, has combined with Mintz to take the shots and possessions that Watson used to take.

Foster, in particular, has been more aggressive - which has meant an increase in points scored but also in turnovers. His season high of 35 points against Georgetown was excellent, but six turnovers against DePaul was not, despite an easy win.

Since Watson’s injury, the Bluejays are allowing higher shooting percentages to opponents, shooting a higher percentage of threes - but creating fewer of their own shots. And overall, they are a little worse, as measure by efficiency margin (what the team would score given a 100-possession game).

Bluejays without Watson.csv

With or Without You Games Possessions per Game Creighton PPP Opponent PPP Efficiency Margin
With or Without You Games Possessions per Game Creighton PPP Opponent PPP Efficiency Margin
Without Watson 10 72.8 1.06 1.03 0.03
With Watson 6 70.5 1.11 1.00 0.11
How the BlueJays are faring without the injured Maurice Watson, in aggregate Norman Rose

Outside of that, the Bluejays, as far as St. John’s is concerned, are extremists - mostly mediocre rebounders on both ends but incredibly deft shooters from all positions on the floor. Each rotation player is a three-point threat outside of senior Zach Hanson, who has returned to form from injury over the last nine games.

Keys to contest

The goal for St. John’s tonight is to not fall into a hole early, and to make the Bluejays shooters uncomfortable.

Disruption: The Johnnies need to force bad shots, deflections, awkward passes - in general, the team needs to push Creighton out of their offensive flow to have a chance. In particular, the Johnnies need to stifle the inside game and take away the home team’s advantage.

Shooting the ball well: St. John’s has to score and get to the basket to have a chance in this game. Can Federico Mussini keep his scoring going from the Hoya game? Can Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds slither their way to impressive shots and frustrate the Bluejays?

Energy: St. John’s has to manufacture the kind of energy that Tariq Owens brings, whether he is on the floor or not for St. John’s. Could Darien Williams provide that spark? Could it be Malik Ellison? Amar Alibegovic?

Predictions

Creighton is celebrating senior night, and St. John’s might be hobbled inside.

KenPom Prediction: 89-76 Creighton (12% chance of St. John’s victory)

Rumble Prediction: 82-70 Creighton