St. John’s is coming off of their second Big East win and continued strong performances from Julian Champagnie. But it was the defensive effort — harassing Butler, forcing steals — that helped the Red Storm shine through, especially early in the game.
Marquette, however, is a different animal (an bird, not a canine), and has both talented height and scoring skill. Unlike Butler, their scoring options are all over the floor, and their youth is ready to pull out a win.
Can the Johnnies generate enough offense to keep up? Are the Red Storm rounding into shape as a cohesive unit?
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (7-6, 2-5 Big East) vs. Marquette Golden Eagles (7-6, 3-4 Big East)
When: Saturday, January 16, 2021, 12:00 PM
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY
TV: FS1 | online
Recent history: St. John’s has won four of their last seven against the Golden Eagles.
Defensive lapses have been the tale of the team — and giving up big leads, at least recently. The Golden Eagles have play the top schedule and some of those losses are nothing to be ashamed of, but the percentage of turnovers and losses against UCLA, Villanova and Oklahoma State are notable.
What is also notable is that, all of Marquette’s losses have been to very good teams — UConn, Xavier, Villanova, Seton Hall and the three mentioned above. All of which is to say Marquette is hard to understand — and maybe young and inconsistent. Wins over Wisconsin and Creighton and the recent win over Providence show that the team has potential and will be a hard out.
Marquette has a pair of elite freshmen and an ability to do some things offensively on the court that are very hard to scout for. The team has a good amount of height and very good shooters, leading with freshman phenom Dawson Garcia (#33). Garcia is 6’11” and able to score from outside the arc and inside the arc. He can attack off the dribble, but needs to protect the ball better on drives.
Fellow freshman Justin Lewis (#2) has also made a name for himself, blocking shots, rebounding, and showing potential from outside the arc; he has shot 1/13 from beyond the arc in the last five games.
Scoring guard Koby McEwen (#25) was inefficient last year, but has had far better results this season. He shares playmaking duties with DJ Carton (#21), a transfer from Ohio State. Carton has been better about ball possession in recent games; he is also 1/13 from outside the arc in the last three contests for Marquette. Greg Elliott (#5) has been a solid perimeter defender with a lot of athleticism.
Senior wing Jamal Cain (#23) is a solid defender and very long. He is shooting 43% from deep and has good athleticism; he may be the team’s best dunk threat in transition.
Fellow senior Theo John (#4) is a big body in the post, as usual. His rebounding is solid and he has added a three-point shot on occasion. He has not taken a three-pointer in four games, and he has not scored in double digits in four.
Keys to the Game
Basketball, but make it chaos. The Johnnies best chance to pull an upset is to create lots of turnovers, chaos, and show the Golden Eagles confusing looks. Posh Alexander and Rasheem Dunn’s ability to pressure ballhandlers and bother forwards will be key.
Get Champagnie going and give him help. Julian Champagnie’s offense has been a steady driving force for the Red Storm. But how will the Red Storm capitalize next to him? In a game like this against a team with a lot of height, perhaps a breakout game from Vince Cole (who can take advantage of open threes) or Greg Williams, Jr. (who can take advantage of open threes and assault the rims) is in the cards.
Rebound/ defend inside. St. John’s middling rebounding on both ends of the floor has not been their main problem — the defense’s inability to get stops OR steals has been a bigger issue. But faced with a team with a pair of freshmen who are strong offensive rebounders, plus Theo John, it is imperative that the Red Storm blocks them from easy paths to putbacks. Is Josh Roberts up to the task? Can Marcellus Earlington carve out space? Will Isaih Moore be back?
St. John's pulls out a surprise early, but Marquette’s forwards wear the Johnnies down for a 82-78 thriller.