As the regular season comes to a close, St. John’s looks to get their first win in two weeks against Providence tonight at Carnesecca Arena. The Red Storm were streaking at the end of January into February, winning six straight. But now, this is a must-win game for the Johnnies, if they want to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive after dropping three of their last four games.
Both teams currently have an 8-9 conference record with two games left to play, and both teams are fighting for a 5th seed in the Big East Tournament that would grant them a first-round bye — an extra day of rest, not having to play the night before, not having to get past the pesky teams below the Red Storm in the standings — each of which has a win against the Johnnies.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (14-10, 8-9 Big East) vs Providence Friars (12-11, 8-9 Big East)
When: Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 7:00 PM
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY (no fans)
TV: CBS Sports Network | Online
Radio: 570 AM | TuneIn Radio
Recapping the first matchup with Providence
St. John’s won 92-81 on the road, being in control for most of the game but briefly giving up their lead early in the second half.
St. John’s was strong on offense, shooting 59% from the field, 53% from deep, and 88% from the line. Julian Champagnie scored 24 points and Posh Alexander scored 21, while four other players contributed eight or more points. (Perhaps that is why Ed Cooley said this week that teams have to respect the way St. John’s can put points on the board.)
The Johnnies stayed with the Friars on the boards, winning that battle 31-29 with 10 rebounds coming from Champagnie. The teams both had 17 assists, with 10 St. John’s assists coming from Rasheem Dunn.
The Johnnies’ defense was good but not great against Providence, forcing the Friars to shoot 47% from the field and 31% from deep. The Red Storm forced 12 turnovers, and they did allow 81 points, partly due to the fast pace of the game.
Providence’s best player and potential first-round pick David Duke was limited to nine points, but Nate Watson scored 30, pounding the Red Storm at the rim, and Noah Horchler scored 19.
Since you’ve been gone
What St. John’s has done since the first matchup
The Johnnies have dropped three of their past four, which have been the four games after the first Providence game. They:
- blew a lead and lost in overtime at Butler,
- had a solid win against Xavier,
- lost a must-win game to last place DePaul, and
- were blown out by Villanova.
In those games, St. John’s has shot terribly, shooting 42% from the field and 29% from deep. Their defense has not been great either, as they have allowed their opponents to shoot 49% from the field and 33% from deep, and they have forced fewer turnovers than they normally do. Posh Alexander has only averaged eight points during these past four games and left the last game with an injury.
St. John’s has had a few bright spots in this short rough stretch. One highlight has been the team’s best scorer, Julian Champagnie, averaging 21.3 points during that stretch and being the one guy the Red Storm can go to for consistent looks on offense. Another bright spot on offense for the team has been Isaih Moore, who has scored double digits in all of the last 4 games, averaging 12.5 points and 4.0 rebounds.
The Red Storm need to maintain a consistent offense if they want to take down Providence tonight; a big part of that will be efficient shooting. The Johnnies need to get good looks and take smart shots, and maintain consistent scoring against the Friars defense.
What Providence has done since the first matchup
Since playing St. John’s, Providence has won 3 of their 4 games, with a home win against UConn, a road win at DePaul, a road win at UConn, and a home win against Xavier.
A key to this success has been shooting well from deep, as they have averaged s madeeven threes a game on 38% shooting. They have also been very solid on defense, holding their opponents to a 40.5% shooting from the floor and 26% from 3. This also could be attributed to poor shooting performances from their opponents who have also shot 67% from the line, meaning Providence’s recent success might not be sustainable.
During this good stretch for Providence, David Duke and Nate Watson, the team’s two best players, have struggled. But a spark plug for the Friars has been AJ Reeves, who has averaged 12 points on 47.6% from deep. Providence will need him and the rest of the team to stay hot from deep, and also need St. John’s to keep shooting poorly, in order to maintain offensive dominance over the Johnnies.
St. Johns rebounds from their recent losses and wins a close game, 77-74.