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Game thread: St. John’s vs Xavier Musketeers

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The final true home game, against a hot opponent

Wendell Cruz

Finally, a game that only exists to make us nervous!

Will Mustapha Heron play against Xavier? Will Shamorie Ponds and Justin Simon bring the high-energy game? Will LJ Figueroa’s ridiculous length end up in swats, rebounds and dunks? Will St. John’s dismantle the streaking Musketeers?

Will we need to meditate to find calm sometime in the last three minutes of this game?

All these questions will be answered tonight!

**Game preview**

Game Information

Who: St. John’s Red Storm (20-8, 8-7 Big East) vs Xavier Musketeers (15-13, 7-8 Big East)

Where: Carnesecca Arena (5,600)

When: Thursday, February 28, 6:30 PM

TV: ESPN | WatchESPN

Audio: 970 WNYM AM | TuneIn Radio

Odds: St. John’s, - 5.5

Injury/ personnel notes

  • St. John’s: Mustapha Heron’s status will likely be known closer to game time. He did not practice yesterday.
  • Xavier: Sophomore guard Elias Harden has been suspended for the game against St. John’s and will not make the trip to New York. He’s a good defender.
  • Xavier: Keonte Kennedy has taken some time away from the Musketeers; he has been gone for five games.

Keys to the Game

Defuse the inside players. The Red Storm need to make entry passes inside hard, with deflections and traps. The team needs to make running the Xavier offense difficult, and make the big men pause before making their moves. The Johnnies also need to be competent on the glass, giving up only a few offensive boards.

High-octane effort. Whether the Red Storm can actually get the tempo up to their liking is a question, but the effort should not be lacking. The Red Storm needs to force live-ball turnovers, attack with authority, and keep the ball moving on offense to generate mismatches on switches, opportunities for threes, and chances for Shamorie Ponds to take advantage of chaos.

Don’t foul. The Musketeers can get content taking jump shots; the Johnnies defense needs to make shooting hard, but not so hard that players like Naji Marshall get chances to drive to the basket. Adjust as necessary.