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St. John’s vs Seton Hall: how to watch, game preview

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In what should be a hotly-contested game with a packed house, what do the Johnnies need to do to spring the upset on the Pirates?

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Greg Williams Jr. throws down a dunk on Sandro Mamukelashvili
Wendell Cruz

Noontime tips in the Garden are getting to be a solid habit, as the Red Storm work to reclaim MSG as their iconic home. Claiming is more easily done with big wins in front of raucous crowds, of course; and the fans at the cross-Hudson rivalry should not disappoint.

The Hall have been defending and scoring at a high level; but St. John’s has been competitive against the Pirates in the last three seasons.

It is less than a day before the two teams renew their rivalry. Will the Hall continue their winning ways? Or will St. John’s take them out of their game and walk out into the New York afternoon snow with a W in the record books?

Game Details

Who: St. John’s Red Storm (12-6, 1-4 Big East) vs. Seton Hall Pirates (13-4, 5-0 Big East)

When: Saturday, January 18th, 12:00 PM ET

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

TV: Fox | FoxSportsGo

Audio: St. John’s website provides free audio for the game. The stream can be found by clicking here.

Tickets: Tickets for the Red Storm’s first Big East game in Madison Square Garden go for $37 or more.

Last Season in MSG: St. John’s gutted out a 78-70 victory for their 20th win — and last regular season victory (they won once more, against DePaul in the Big East Tournament). Greg Williams Jr. and Marcellus Earlington had three blocks apiece.

Last Big East game: St. John’s battled the Providence Friars but lost, 63-59.

Seton Hall fought Butler in Hinkle Fieldhouse and came away with a win over the top-5 Bulldogs, 78-70.

Last six games, W/L form (left side is most recent game)

St. John’s: WLLLWL || Seton Hall: WWWWWW

Scouting Seton Hall

LJ Figueroa bothers a shot in Newark last season
Wendell Cruz

Seton Hall is playing high-level basketball, looking like a team that can challenge Villanova for a Big East title. Their schedule has been filled with tests, they are positioned for a good seed in the NCAA Tournament, and they have been playing without power forward Sandro Mamukelashvili, a 6’11” inside-outside threat for the Pirates. He should continue to be sidelined by injury for another couple of weeks.

The Pirates are experienced, with most of the roster having played major minutes last season. They feature three seniors, some juniors and a pair of freshmen who played solid minutes last year — and have been pressed into action this season when injuries hit.

Defensively, they can play some different styles — adding pressure at times, defending straight up and making opponents uncomfortable.

With their size, they have been able to cover all the bases. The Hall keeps opponents from the three-point line, lock down scoring inside the arc (allowing 43% on two-pointers, 21st best in the nation) including a Big East-leading block rate of 15.8% of twos taken.

On offense, they score solidly inside and outside the arc, take a lot of threes, and move the ball well. In league play, Seton Hall has taken a lot of free throws and leads the league in assisted shot percentage, 64% of made field goals.

Led by star Myles Powell, (#13), a 6’2” senior, the Pirates attack from the perimeter. Powell has the skill to get his shot off or make the right pass on a drive. He’s not an elite passer but finds ways to score in bunches. He is taking 41% of the Hall’s shots; that is the second-highest rate in the country to Marquette’s Markus Howard (who the Red Storm will see on Tuesday).

With Powell, point guard Quincy McKnight (#0) has become crisper with his passing and decision-making. With Powell, he can really harass on defense. Point guard Anthony Nelson (#2) has good size and filled in when Powell was sidelined with an injury; the Hall beat Maryland in that configuration.

Keeping those three from transition opportunities or otherwise getting to the rim will be key.

Shavar Reynolds (#33) adds to the backcourt talent. He’s a solid defensive guard who can hit outside shots. He hit a big one against St. John’s last season. You might remember it.

Up front, Romaro Gill (#35), a 7’2” Jamaican center, has upped his game considerably. Not only a shot blocker, he can pump in points for stretches. Against Butler, his 17 points and solid offensive touch tilted the game against a Bulldog squad that has vulnerability inside. Gill has scored in double figures over his last four games. He is not a devastating rebounder on defense, especially given his size, but he will be hard to contend with. He does commit five fouls per 40 minutes.

Ike Obiagu (#21), a transfer from Florida State, is also 7’2” and blocks shots. Like Gill, he isn’t a great defensive rebounder. Also like Gill, he can commit a few too many fouls. Freshman Tyrese Samuel (#4) adds size (6’10”); the big from Montreal can also hit threes.

On the wing, Myles Cale (#22) battles inconsistency but can be good from outside the arc. he is a good mid-range jump shooter. Jared Rhoden (#14) has not been a great three-point shooter, but he can certainly throw down some dunks — and rebound on the defensive end, where hs has been the Pirates’ best per-minute defensive rebounder.

Keys to the Game

Marcellus Earlington hears from Chris Huey on the sidelines
Wendell Cruz

Ugly it up. Slow down the Pirates, make them make shots. St. John’s has to fight, deflect, and bother the Hall, who are very experienced, solidly strong and confident in what they want to do.

Points needed, badly. The Hall have scored over a point per possession in almost every game. There was a three-game stretch where the Hall’s outside shooting did not crack 30%; St. John’s needs to keep their points from beyond the arc down, while generating some points from deep on their own. A game of Rasheem Dunn and Mustapha Heron bullying to the basket will not end in success; the Red Storm need threes. Tall task against the Pirates’ elite defense.

Keep them off the glass. St. John’s has struggled in Big East play to keep opponents from grabbing their own misses. Against two seven-footers and some aggressive forwards, can Josh Roberts, Julian Champagnie and Marcellus Earlington restrict the Hall’s offensive rebounding, their second chances — and make sure St. John’s takes more shots than the Pirates?

Prediction

The Hall is experienced and rolling, and they have had St. John’s number. 74-62 win by Seton Hall.