Back on track, after a win, St. John's hopes to start a winning streak - the first in over a month - against another Big East team that overpowered the Johnnies on their home court.
Last Wednesday St. John's turned the tables on Providence. Can they do the same to the Musketeers?
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (14-11, 3-9 Big East) vs. Xavier Musketeers (16-9, 5-7 Big East)
When: Monday, February 17th, 6:30 PM ET
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
TV: Fox Sports 1 | Fox Sports Go
Audio: St. John’s website provides free audio for the game. The stream can be found by clicking here.
Tickets: For any fans hoping to catch the game, it will only set you back $37. Fans can purchase tickets by clicking this link.
Last Meeting: St. John’s feel apart in the second half, losing to the Musketeers 75-67 in Cincinnati.
Last Big East game: St. John’s cruised by the Providence Friars by a 80-69 score.
Xavier visited a top 20 Butler team last week, falling by a 66-61 score.
In the previous matchup at the Cintas Center, St. John's managed to get the home crowd booing, as the Musketeers committed a bunch of turnovers early. Xavier gave the ball up 19 times in that contest.
Nevertheless, St. John’s did not defend the arc well, and once Xavier started hitting threes, they had leads as large as 13 behind the scoring of Naji Marshall. The Johnnies must work to keep Marshall in check. He led the way for Xavier in that game, scoring 20 points while also tallying 8 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Beyond just containing Marshall, the Johnnies are going to need a strong showing from their frontcourt. Xavier is one of the biggest teams in their country, and a significant majority of their offense comes from inside the arc. Coach Travis Steele’s team does not excel at shooting three-pointers, nor do they get a lot of the scoring from the free-throw line. This means St. John’s is going to have to play solid defense in the key, and avoid being emasculated by a bigger opponent.
Marcellus Earlington had a solid 12 points off the bench last time out against the rugged Musketeers; the Johnnies need his scoring once again, as he has become more confident on the floor. He will be a good response to Xavier’s talent in the frontcourt.
Julian Champagnie will be another player St. John’s will need to step up. In the last matchup with Xavier, Champagnie led the team with 5 defensive rebounds. He will need a repeat performance in order to keep Marshall and Tyrique Jones off the offensive glass. Xavier as a team is terrific at following their missed shots, and creating second chances.
Keys to Contest
Hit some threes: Xavier's defense allows teams to make attempts from deep. While not a strength, the Red Storm need to show that they can make enough deep shots to change Xavier's defense. St. John’s shot 1-16 (6%) from deep in their last meeting with the Musketeers. It is imperative they shoot the ball better from distance in this one.
Slow Tyrique Jones: Jones is a big-bodied forward, the kind who often bothers the Johnnies with size. Against Providence, the Red Storm used a few wrinkles to slow the Providence bigs; some of that formula, plus bothersome defense on the perimeter, will go a long way to putting the team in position for a win.
Defend the perimeter: The Red Storm's swarming defense often missed three-point shooters in their scramble. The team needs better coverage to make Xavier at least think twice about their perimeter shots. Disrupting the Musketeers on the perimeter will overall keep them out of the flow of their offense.
Xavier is fighting to stay in the NCAA Tournament conversation. On the other side, the Johnnies are still without Mustapha Heron, and might not have the firepower to top the Musketeers.
Xavier: 78 | St. John’s: 68