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St. John’s vs DePaul: Preview and Prediction for the Big East Opener

The Red Storm host the Blue Demons for the first Big East game of the season.

NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, St. John’s will play their first conference game of the season when they host the DePaul Blue Demons. The matchup will be the first Big East conference game of the season, and the only Big East matchup until other teams start conference play next Friday. DePaul is a team the Red Storm should beat, as they are expected to have another season where they finish towards the bottom of the conference.

In the Johnnies’ most recent game, they failed their first real test of the year, losing 71-60 on Sunday at #23 Iowa State. The Red Storm let Iowa State start the game 17-2, which was a deficit they never recovered from. The Johnnies shot the ball very poorly as a team, going 19-53 from the field and 3-16 from deep.

Foul trouble really hurt the Red Storm against Iowa State, as Andre Curbelo fouled out of the game, and Joel Soriano and Posh Alexander both finished with four fouls. Mike Anderson shortened up his rotation in this game, only playing three players off the bench.

Game Information

Who: St. John’s Red Storm (8-1) vs DePaul Blue Demons (5-3)

When: Wednesday, December 7, 2022, 6:30 PM

Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, New York


Odds: St. John’s -8.5

Last Season: Last year the programs split the regular season matchups, both winning their home game. They faced off in the first round of the Big East Tournament, a game the Red Storm won.

Scouting DePaul

DePaul has a KenPom ranking of 93rd in the country, while the Red Storm’s loss to Iowa State saw them drop a few spots to 44th. The Blue Demons finished last in this year’s preseason Big East coach’s poll, although they do look to be better than Georgetown.

DePaul is coached by Tony Stubblefield, who’s first season coaching the program was last year. Currently, he has led the Blue Demons sit at a 5-3 record, with their losses being to Santa Clara, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M, and their best wins being at Minnesota and a couple OT victories over Samford and Loyola Chicago.

Tony Stubblefield lost all three of his best scorers from last season, as guard Javon Freeman-Liberty went pro, forward Brandon Johnson graduated, and forward David Jones is currently the leading scorer for St. John’s.

This season, DePaul’s leading scorer has been 6-6 grad forward Javan Johnson, who played at Troy and Iowa State before coming to the Blue Demons before last season. Johnson has gotten off to a very hot start this season, averaging 18.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, and connecting on 42% of his 6.3 three point attempts per game. Johnson is joined in the starting frontcourt by 6-6 grad forward Eral Penn, a transfer who spent his five previous seasons at LIU, playing four of those years and redshirting one. Penn is DePaul’s best rebounder and is averaging 12 points and 8.1 rebounds so far this season.

In the backcourt, the Blue Demons are led by Umoja Gibson, a 6-1 grad transfer who spent three seasons at North Texas and two at Oklahoma. So far for DePaul, Gibson has averaged 17.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 2.6 steals while shooting 41.7% on his 6 three point attempts per contest. Also in the starting backcourt is 6-0 junior Jalen Terry, a second year player who played his freshman year at Oregon, who averages 4.3 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, only shooting 29.4% from the field and 26.3% from deep. In the absence of Yor Anei, DePaul’s starting center who is currently injured, Tony Stubblefield starts a third guard, 6-7 senior Philmon Gebrewhit, who’s in his second season with DePaul. So far this year, Gebrewhit has averaged 7.9 points and 2.9 rebounds, shooting 41.7% from deep.

Off the bench, DePaul’s top contributor is 6-8 JUCO transfer forward Da’Sean Nelson, who averages 9.4 points and 4 rebounds. Nelson is the Blue Demons’ only source of size off the bench, all their other rotation subs are guards. None are big contributors stat wise, but 6-2 freshman Ahamad Bynum, 6-3 junior KT Raimey, and 6-4 freshman Zion Cruz could all receive minutes tonight.

Someone else who could play is 6-4 junior Caleb Murphy, who averaged 11.4 points for USF last season. Murphy has missed DePaul’s first eight games due to injury, but has been cleared for basketball activities and is a game-time decision for tonight’s game.

Keys to the Game

Start strong. This is a key that the Johnnies fail to achieve in almost every game, and it finally caught up to them on Sunday with their first loss. It could mean Mike Anderson making some changes to his starting lineup, but whatever it is, the Red Storm need to start tonight’s game better than they have started their previous games.

Defend the three point shot. DePaul is a good three point shooting team as a whole, and has a lot of guys who can hit shots. The Johnnies need good perimeter defense that limits the looks the Blue Demons get from deep.

Dominate the paint. DePaul’s tallest starter is a 6-7 guard, which is something Joel Soriano and the Red Storm should take advantage of. St. John’s needs to win the inside battle tonight with looks at the rim and a team rebounding effort.


St. John’s grits out a 74-70 win.