The close confines of Carnesecca Arena give the Johnnies an opportunity to earn an upset win. The Creighton Bluejays — slightly undersized but talented on offense, hope to keep a torrid February going into March on the road.
On paper, after seeing that the Johnnies have lost three straight, the matchup could feel like a mismatch.
But the Red Storm have not been that far in some of their games, even against Villanova last game out. If the Johnnies get solid performances from the whole squad, including some shooting from the talented LJ Figueroa, could the game be closer than expected?
It’s also Mike Anderson bobblehead day, and a doubleheader with the women’s squad, who play at 4 pm.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (14-14, 3-12 Big East) vs. #10/#11 Creighton Bluejays (22-6, 11-4 Big East)
When: Sunday, March 1, 12:00 PM
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, 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: Tickets can be obtained for as low as $26.
Last Meeting: In February, Creighton opened up the bag on St. John’s, delivering the Red Storm’s worst defensive performance of the season on a per-possession basis. Creighton won in Omaha, 94-82. For those looking at silver linings, it was also the Red Storm’s second-best offensive performance this season.
Last Big East game: St. John’s fell at Villanova despite getting within a possession at numerous times; the final score was 71-60.
Creighton eviscerated Butler at home, 81-59; the Bluejays were up 40-21 at the half and led by as much as 70-35 late in the second half.
The Bluejays have had a tremendous month, losing once — to a hot Providence team that knocked off the Villanova Wildcats this afternoon.
Their rotation is scorching the nets, led by point guard Marcus Zegarowski manning the point. He has connected on over 63% of his three pointers in the five game winning streak — from the St. John’s game until now. His ability to slice into the Johnnies’ defense in the first meeting was key to getting easy shots for the Bluejays.
Zegarowski’s skill allows guards Ty-Shon Alexander and Mitch Ballock to be catch-and-shoot players, and in the stretch, both have committed very few turnovers — a total of seven while both average over 30 minutes per game. Alexander has been stealing the ball, and both are deft passers.
The secret sauce has been the energy from forward Christian Joseph, who has been a defensive menace, and from Damien Jefferson, who is getting shots at the basket. Joseph has also been handing out assists, rebounding on the offensive end, grabbing steals and blocking shots.
For St. John’s, the Bluejays do not pose an imposing size challenge. But their cohesion and offensive shooting skill makes it hard to keep up, even if the Johnnies can take advantage of their defensive flaws. The Jays will not always guard teams close; a hot shooting day from the likes of David Caraher or Julian Champagnie could make the game interesting.
The last time the two teams met, Marcellus Earlington had six offensive rebounds and a career-high 25 points; he has scored in double figures in four of his last five games.
Keys to the Game
Attack the glass. The Bluejays are not tall on the inside. A dedication to throwing up shots at the right time, attacking the glass and making chaos would have advantages... unless it gave Creighton easy run outs.
Make threes. St. John’s has to be able to get points in bunches — turnovers, drawing fouls — but they also need to shoot well enough to keep the Creighton defense honest.
Rev up the crowd. The Johnnies need to get the fans behind them, get a bit more support — and find deep reserves to pull off the win.
St. John’s pulls off the 77-76 upset.