The thrill of St. John’s overtime win over the Hoyas is gone, as the Johnnies have gone 1-3 since that lovely afternoon of Shamorie Ponds explosiveness.
The Johnnies, losers of two straight, need to recapture the magic to get back on track. But that magic also saw the Red Storm give up penetration to the Hoya guards, allow 85 points in regulation, and struggle to stop the Hoyas inside.
All the same issues loom large at home. With a week off, have the Johnnies nursed any ailments? Have they crafted a plan to make this game a more comfortable outcome?
Chris Mullin’s squad needs to start making a move up the standings in the Big East in the first of three Big East games at Madison Square Garden.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (15-4, 3-4 Big East) vs Georgetown Hoyas (12-7, 2-4 Big East)
Where: Madison Square Garden
When: Sunday, January 27th, 12:00 PM ET
TV: Fox | Fox Sports Go
Audio: 570 WMCA AM | TuneIn Radio
Odds: St. John’s, -9.5
Last Meeting: The Red Storm won in Washington for the first time since 2003 by the score of 97-94.
St. John’s needed a strong dose of Shamorie Ponds and Mustapha Heron to come back from as many as eight points down in Washington DC. The Red Storm may have been the better team by the end of the game, but were by no means dominant.
Many of the expected issues loomed large. The Hoyas attacked inside, and though they didn’t connect well, Georgetown was a threat on the glass (though a chunk of damage was done in overtime). The Hoya guards got solid penetration as well; James Akinjo took over for a stretch in the second half.
St. John’s forced turnovers more in the second half and got to the line to make up what they may have given up inside.
St. John’s, since the last tussle
The Red Storm have faced a very even Big East, a conference where five teams, including St. John’s, are tied in third place at three wins and four losses.
Shamorie Ponds has been struggling with a back twinge, missing the DePaul game.
St. John’s has been stuck at 71 points in each of the three losses. Playing at pace, sharing the ball and getting to the line will be important for the Red Storm.
Georgetown, since the last tussle
Since the two teams last met, Georgetown has gone 1-3, with the one win at home and two of the losses on the road.
The games have all been close.
Against Xavier, a second half burst, giving up too many free throws, and a career-high from Zach Hankins won the Musketeers the day.
Against the high-powered Marquette squad, Mac McClung went off for 24 and Marquette’s Markus Howard was injured after three minutes. But 31 from Sam Hauser paced the Golden Eagles in a win.
Facing Creighton, 22 points and 12 total rebounds from Jessie Govan, plus 11 assists from James Akinjo couldn’t overcome 45% shooting from deep from the Blue Jays. TyShon Alexander took on a load, scoring 26 to pace five in double figures.
Mac McClung and Trey Mourning both have returned in that time. McClung has scored in double figures in each of the three games he’s played in.
Keys to the Game
Get to the line. The Red Storm are a better team when attacking the basket, especially against the man defense of the Hoyas. Can the Red Storm, after a week off, spread the floor and attack the rim (preferably in transition)?
End their possessions. The Hoyas have size in the paint and will attack for second chance opportunities. The Johnnies need to end their possessions — and steal the ball when possible. More possessions that end without a score, and evening the number of shots the teams take, will be key.
Big game from the guards. After a few games where the offense seemed to get stilted at times, the team needs to see a strong overall game from Ponds, Heron, Justin Simon and LJ Figueroa.
St. John’s wins, 81-77.