One final true road game for St. John’s, and it comes in one of the league’s hardest venues to play in, Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse.
St. John’s, coming off a rousing win over Creighton, won’t catch the Bulldogs by surprise, especially on senior night for two of their star seniors, and four players overall. St. John’s has also lost their last five at Hinkle (more on that below).
But after a game where the team executed well, adjusted to their opponents’ attack, and found comfort shooting from outside the arc, maybe the Red Storm have a shot to pull off a road upset.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (15-14, 4-12 Big East) vs. RV/ #25 Butler Bulldogs (20-9, 8-8 Big East)
When: Wednesday, March 4, 7:00 PM
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
TV: CBS Sports Network | CBS Sports Online
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 $12.
Last Meeting: St. John’s fell behind by 23 points before a furious comeback gave them a lead... that they lost in the last minute, 60-58. The Johnnies were held to one field goal in the last four minutes of the game at Carnesecca.
Last Big East game: St. John’s defeated Creighton, led by some explosive shooting and a breakout game from Greg Williams.
Butler, coming off of a beating at the hands of Creighton, demolished DePaul, 60-42 — the fewest points Butler has allowed in a Big East game.
Once in the top 10, the Butler Bulldogs have fell to the edges of the ranked world. They should still be an NCAA Tournament team — their last win over DePaul, plus their early body of work should ensure that.
But their defense, while solid and prepared, allows a heavy dose of three-point shooting. Coupled with their lack of desire to force steals, Butler can have a lot of defensive variance — based on whether opponents are hitting shots. When they hold a team to 4/22 from beyond the arc, like they did to St. John’s, they win. When teams shoot in the 30s, it’s less of a sure thing for Butler in Big East play.
Kamar Baldwin, the tough guard from Georgia, will be playing his final Hinkle regular season home game tomorrow, along with sharpshooter Sean McDermott, wing Henry Baddley, and center Derrik Smits.
The Bulldogs have dealt with injury issues; Smits has missed the last four games with a knee issue, while forward Christian David, who made the game-winning shot against St. John’s at the end of December, is out for the season with an ACL injury.
Expect a slow game with slashing by Kamar Baldwin and three-point shooting from Jordan Tucker.
Keys to the Game
Make outside shots. Butler is a physical defensive team and prepared for opponent tendencies. St. John’s needs to execute their offense and make tough, challenged shots from outside the arc to open things up.
Force miscues. The chaos forced by the Red Storm in the first meeting may be hard to replicate on the road, without the friendly fans of Queens at full throat. At their most focused, St. John’s can confuse very good teams. When not focused, the Johnnies can allow a lot of easy buckets.
Hang together and fight. St. John’s has lost at Hinkle by 20 points or more in four of their last five games in Indianapolis. Clearly, the Bulldogs get up for putting down the Storm. St. John’s will need to be resilient, will need to execute, and will need to hang together and trust teammates to make the right play, versus trying to lead the team back through the wilderness as a one-man show.
St. John’s falls, 74-61.