St. John’s is in search of win number 15 at home against DePaul tonight. The Red Storm, likely under consideration for an NCAA berth, will want a few more wins under their belt to make what seemed like a remote possibility early in the Big East season into a plausibility.
But the Red Storm cannot afford a loss to free falling DePaul, losers of five straight games.
DePaul was missing two talented players last game against Seton Hall - contest where they played good enough defense to win, but executed poorly on offense in the beginning and especially the end of the game.
If DePaul can clean those miscues up, and their star guard has a good night, St. John’s could find a very hard contest from a desperate, nothing-to-lose team.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (14-8, 8-7 Big East) vs. DePaul Blue Demons (3-10, 1-10 Big East)
When: Saturday, February 20, 2021, 7:30 PM
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY (no fans)
TV: FS1 | Fox Sports Online
Recapping the first meeting against DePaul
St. John’s won 81-68, despite Pauly Paulicap going to 16 points and 16 total rebounds. Of the rebounds, 10 were offensive, and Paulicap got 13 shots at the rim. Guard Javon Freeman-Liberty and Charlie Moore combined for 37 and the rest of the team added 15. Freeman-Liberty and Moore both missed the last game. Moore is reportedly warming up but Freeman-Liberty may miss tonight’s contest.
Still, St. John’s enjoyed the resurgence for Isaih Moore (15 points) — starting against DePaul, he has a he has had a dunk in six straight league games. Moore also had three steals, and according to his plus/ minus stats on the defensive end, was a force. Vince Cole added 18 in his best performance in conference play, stepping in for an injured Greg Williams Jr. Julian Champagnie scored 16 (not as efficient as his other games), while Posh Alexander had 15; Rasheem Dunn had nine assists.
Trends, St. John’s
Marcellus Earlington had a third-straight strong rebounding game. Earlington’s scoring in the last contest earned accolades, but his defensive rebounding has been very good over the last three games. When he rebounds and defends well, St. John’s is allowed to go small against opponents, sometimes neutralizing a big on the other end defensively and opening up driving lanes.
The other guards. While Posh Alexander and Rasheem Dunn have been providing steady energy and box score production, the other guards have had hits and misses. Greg Williams Jr. had a solid game with eight points last time out with three assists. As he rounds back into shape, his steal numbers may tick back up to where they were earlier in the season.
St. John’s has done a decent job on defense. Teams will score inside the arc, get some offensive rebounds, and make runs, but the Johnnies’ defense has held. A large part of the holding is from the three-point shooting, where opponents have taken a normal percentage of shots, but connected on fewer than usual. Can the Johnnies keep it up? Or will a team focus on setting the feet and put pressure on the Red Storm?
On DePaul, watch for...
Who? If Charlie Moore and Jevon Freeman-Liberty are out again this evening, the Blue Demons will turn to freshman Kobe Elvis and transfer Ray Salnave. If Moore is on the floor, expect him to be the offensive focal point. The quick guard can shoot from deep and make passes, but his shooting inside the arc has been a struggle.
Outside of Moore, the options are limited. Oscar Lopez has been injured almost all season, Jaylen Butz has left the team.
Meanwhile Courvoisier McCauley hasn’t been able to get minutes and/ or find his rhythm. There is a newcomer David Jones — a mid-year addition who committed for next year’s class, but left high school to get playing time early. He scored 10 against Providence and is a top-100 wing.
Elvis and Salnave haven’t added consistent production, though Salnave scored 21 against Creighton and Elvis was a hero against Seton Hall, adding in 13 for the undermanned Blue Demons.
Rebounding. Pauly Paulicap and Nick Ongenda are tall, fast forwards who can compete for some rebounds. On a DePaul team that misses a lot of shots, clearing those misses is a high priority.
Be there. The Blue Demons’ defense has been very good. Their offense has been very bad. St. John’s job is to not make things easy by turning over the ball, getting goaded into easy shots, or simply not showing up — especially on defense.
St. John’s delivers a strong performance, winning 82-75.