St. John’s has winged to the Big East’s western outpost for a big game tomorrow.
It will be festive in the stands. It’s Dollar Beer Night in Omaha, where fans get to drink dollar beers from when the doors open (6 PM central) until tip off. As you can imagine, that will make for a juiced up crowd as the Red Storm tip off against the Creighton Bluejays.
If you are wondering, St. John’s has not won in Omaha in seven tries, dating back to 1962.
But it’s also “80s night” at the CHI Health Center. And as you all know, St. John’s and Chris Mullin enjoyed the 80s on the hardwood.
Coming off a pair of losses, the Red Storm hope that Creighton is ripe for a let down after two wins — a close one over Georgetown and a blowout of Butler at home.
The Red Storm will need better shooting and better defense, though, to pull of the road upset and salvage a bit of January before heading to North Carolina for a matchup with Duke.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (15-5, 3-5 Big East) vs Creighton BlueJays (12-8, 3-4 Big East)
Where: CHI Health Center Omaha (capacity: 17,352)
When: Wednesday, January 30th, 8:30 PM ET
TV: FS1 | Fox Sports Go
Audio: [no radio] | TuneIn Radio
Odds: Creighton, -4.5
Last Meeting: St. John’s won 81-66 at Carnesecca Arena.
In the last game, St. John’s figured out how to attack the visiting Bluejays in the second half, keeping Creighton at bay. The Johnnies dedicated to running/ attacking in transition.
The Red Storm figured out how to cover Marcus Zegarowski, who hit a career-high against Division I opponents against St. John’s. Davion Mintz scored 14 in the second half, but Martin Krampelj, their quick big man, was slowed down in the half as well.
Mustapha Heron took over in the second half, complementing strong efforts from LJ Figueroa, Justin Simon and Shamorie Ponds in the first.
Since they last met...
Since the two teams last met, St. John’s has gone 0-2 and the Bluejays have gone 2-0 with wins over Georgetown and Butler.
Using the same lineup, the Jays continue to be offensively hard to stop — getting to the free throw line more than they did against St. John’s against both opponents.
Against Butler, they found some defense. Facing Georgetown, Creighton played an offensively-focused shootout.
St. John’s could find themselves in a tough spot if they allow Creighton to get into their flow, or if the Bluejays have found a new gear on defense.
The Red Storm, on the other hand, have had a week break bookended by a pair of losses. Both were eyebrow-raising games, but a unifying theme: the opponents made sure the Red Storm didn’t get out and run in transition, or get shots at the rim.
Coupled with a stretch of poor three-point shooting — St. John’s shot under 30% from deep in three of the last four losses — the Johnnies are finding it hard to put up points in the manner that they have become accustomed to.
Keys to the Game
Move the ball, stay confident. The Red Storm, on the road, will need to stay true to their principles and share the ball. During a losing streak, some players will try to carry the load themselves, especially if they have a hot start. The team needs to trust in each other and play hard, shooting with confidence and balance, while generating good, open shots and assists.
Rebound. Creighton will come with revenge on their minds. Big man Martin Krampelj and the rest of the squad will look to play more aggressively; and attacking the glass is a way to attack a major St. John’s weakness.
Defend the triple. Mitch Ballock had a quiet game in the first contest. But as guard playing power forward, he can have quite a day shooting if the Red Storm don’t pay attention to him. Zegarowski and Mintz, along with Ty-Shon Alexander, can all have big games from deep. Alexander’s 10 point, 4/13 night in Queens against the Red Storm was his worst output in the last five games; he’s better than he has shown
Yes, this team seems to be in some kind of doldrums. But Creighton’s style of play feeds into a lot of what St. John’s does well. Let’s go bold and say St. John’s starts building back up with a wild 86-83 win over the Bluejays.