Big East Tournament play is here, and a late season surge in shooting has lifted the St. John’s squad to a pair of very good wins — with a chance for more, given the layout of the Big East Tournament.
But first, St. John’s has to take care of business against rival Georgetown tonight in Madison Square Garden.
Will history repeat for the Johnnies and the Hoyas?
St. John’s has faced off against Georgetown three times in the Big East Tournament in the last 11 years on the first day of the tourney (for the teams below the cut line for a first-round bye). St. John’s has won all three of those games, knocking the Hoyas out of the tournament.
Tonight, with a new confidence, the Red Storm hope to undo a pair of losses and take out a decimated Hoya squad — and face the Big East’s top seed, Creighton, tomorrow at noon.
Big East Tournament Game Information
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (16-15, 5-13 Big East) vs. Georgetown Hoyas (15-16, 5-13 Big East)
When: Wednesday, March 11, 7:00 PM
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
TV: FS1 | Fox Sports Online
Audio: St. John’s website provides free audio for the game. The stream can be found by clicking here.
Tickets: Tickets are as low as $5. Given the unknowns about the COVID-19 virus and it’s spread, take precautions before jumping on a ticket deal, of course.
Georgetown battled Villanova but fell by one point.
Missing players: Georgetown could be missing Mac McClung and Omer Yurtseven. Additionally, four players have transferred from the Hoya program at midseason for various reasons.
St. John’s will be without Josh Roberts, done for the season with a shoulder injury. Mustapha Heron is also sidelined after surgery. Ian Steere is back with the team, but has seen limited minutes.
What’s new with Georgetown?
Down nine points at the half to Villanova, the Hoyas made a spirited second-half comeback at home, and even led by four. But Villanova got a layup and forced a turnover in the last minute; after that turnover, the Wildcats benefited from a goaltending call plus a foul for the final advantage.
Underlying that crazy ending is the fact that Georgetown, decimated by transfers, restraining orders that led to transfers, and injuries to two star players, hung with Villanova.
The Hoyas played FOUR players for all 40 minutes — Terrell Allen, Jamorko Pickett, Jahvon Blair and Jagan Mosely, plus freshman Qudus Wahab, who earned 30. Timothy Ighoefe played 10 and George Muresan got a minute.
The Hoyas have missed center Omer Yurtseven to an ankle injury and Mac McClung to a leg injury. No work on if both are officially out, but that seems likely.
In the last meeting, Yurtseven turned on some offense late to help power the Hoyas to a big comeback.
In the first meeting, a 87-66 blowout, Mac McClung spent the day at the line and in transition for 24 points.
For St. John’s, the issues to contend with are still there, even if Yurtseven does not play. Qudus Wahab and Ighoefe are both 6’11”, much taller than the Red Storm bigs.
Jagan Mosely has been a solid scorer for the Hoyas, and Jamorko Pickett is a strong player who is finding his shot; at 6’8” and strong, he has given the Johnnies fits inside.
That said, Georgetown has lost six straight, and only two of those games have come within one possession. Their scoring inside the arc has taken a hit, and the team has become more turnover-prone.
Keys to the Game
St. John’s needs to keep the ball movement and shooting going. Some aspects of the recent shooting spurt may not be sustainable, but Greg Williams Jr. and Julian Champagnie have seemed to turn a corner and stepped up their games.
Rasheem Dunn has had a pair of quiet games (I believe Mike Anderson mentioned he was sick?). LJ Figueroa and Marcellus Earlington need to contribute — and stay out of foul trouble.
Contend with size. The Johnnies have little in the way of size, but will counter with versatile bigs, Julian Champagnie and Earlington (and perhaps Ian Steere). Will the Red Storm need to double team? Will the pressure more and wear down the Hoyas?
Force miscues. The Hoyas have three ballhandlers who play all 40 minutes. Patience is necessary, but they will make mistakes; St. John’s has to capitalize on those errors.
Score inside the arc. The Red Storm need to make sure they don’t just park outside the arc for shots, they need balance on offense. The Hoyas have been effective against the Johnnies in part by being stifling inside the arc. Does St. John’s have a plan to get shots at the rim?
A solid performance against Marquette and a Georgetown team running on fumes? Looks like a recipe for a “what the hell?” kind of loss. We will see how Mike Anderson’s style and preparation fares in the Big East Tournament, but here is saying the Red Storm pull out a win.