Down six at the half, the Red Storm came back on Georgetown to finally take a game from the 8th seeded team in the Big East. It was a great 88-77 win, with a loud and rocking Garden as the wind behind St. John’s as the snow blew outside.
And as a prize, the Johnnies get to take on top-seeded Xavier. At noon.
Big East Tournament continues on Thursday, and the 16-16 Johnnies have a chance to win another game — which would mean that they could finish the season at .500 or better.
The third game against Georgetown went well. Can the Johnnies keep the good going with a win over the Musketeers in their third matchup?
Will workplaces all over the tri-state area observe the Two-Hour St. John’s Is Playing Lunch rule? If not, and you work in a desk job, call your friend and set a meeting.
Second round of the Big East Tourney starts tomorrow.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (16-16 I 4-14 Big East) versus Xavier Musketeers (27-4, 15-3)
Where: Madison Square Garden
When: Thursday, March 8, 2018 | 12:00 PM
TV: FS1 | Watch online
Audio: 970 WNYM | TuneIn Radio
Last Meeting: St. John’s tied the game late, but miscues & Xavier execution led to a close loss.
The Musketeers are the second-most efficient team in the country, owing to a crew of highly-efficient forwards — the mix of Sean O’Mara, Kerem Kanter and wing Naji Marshall, a unanimous pick for the Big East’s Freshman first-team.
That group also makes the Musketeers a hard team to rebound against, and a hard team to keep off the free throw line. That said, the Musketeers are the worst team at preventing makes inside the arc with their pack line and zone defenses. That defense does force teams to make their offense from distance, to take long two-pointers — less efficient shots.
Xavier does a good job of making players have to create their own shots; teams have difficulty completing passes against the Musketeer length. But squads can find outside shots.
But, of course, the stars that stir the drink are the deft shooters Trevon Bluiett and JP Macura. Both are tall wings who can drive, draw fouls and bury teams from the perimeter.
Speedy Quentin Goodin and Paul Scruggs handle the point guard duties; both are long guards who defend well but are spotty from outside the arc.
Keys to the Game
The Red Storm lost the two games against Xavier by a combined 11 points. The Musketeers struggled to put them away; Shamorie Ponds scored 31 in the second game. Marvin Clark II combined for 34 points in the two games.
This is a game that, if the team can get some input from Tariq Owens and Bryan Trimble Jr., could be interesting.
Execute on defense. The Musketeers will make St. John’s pay for mistakes, and even good defense can be burned by them. St. John’s length has clearly bothered them in both games this season. Justin Simon and Bashir Ahmed can get under the games of Macura and Bluiett; Amar Alibegovic needs to make the most of his minutes.
Get to the rim! Shamorie Ponds will be in attack mode. The rest of the team should generally follow suit, trying their best to pass up three-pointers (which Xavier would rather teams take) than getting action going to the basket. Patience and getting to the rim will be an asset to the effort.
Don’t give away points. As the team that gets the gift of playing 15 hours after they finished a game, there will be fatigue. Can the Johnnies manage to play mistake-free ball, minimize turnovers and not give the Musketeers easy transition shots?
This is a bit much to hope for; St. John’s falls 83-72.
What are your predictions for halftime and end of game scores?