Fresh off one of their best performances of the season, St. John’s looks to build off their road win at Xavier tomorrow when they take on the Butler Bulldogs at home. The two teams already faced off at Butler this season, where the Johnnies took down the Bulldogs in a close fight. This game is a rescheduled matchup from December 23, where the Red Storm’s home game was canceled due to COVID.
Butler comes into the matchup sitting just below the Red Storm at ninth in Big East standings, with a KenPom ranking of 129 and a NET ranking of 119. They have had a solid past couple of games, beating Marquette at home and DePaul on the road.
Yesterday, St. John’s had what might be their best performance of the season, beating Xavier by 13 on the road with a great offensive game. The Johnnies were led by a 27 point effort from Julian Champagnie, and shot the ball very efficiently to earn the win. The game did a lot for St. John’s KenPom and NET rankings, which now sit at 72 and 78, respectively.
Butler is a team that St. John’s should beat, as the Johnnies look to use the Xavier win as their turning point. The Red Storm need to handle an inferior team tomorrow and propel themselves to a strong close to conference play, and perhaps play themselves back into postseason consideration.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (14-11, 6-8 Big East) vs Butler Bulldogs (13-13, 6-9 Big East)
When: Friday, February 18, 2022, 5:00 PM
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, New York
TV: CBS Sports Network
Odds: St. John's, -8
Recapping the First Matchup
A little less than two weeks ago on Saturday, February 5, the Red Storm and Bulldogs battled, with some clutch Julian Champagnie free throws sealing the game late for the Johnnies.
The game was knotted up at 41 at the half, as the Red Storm played some sloppy first half defense that allowed a poor offensive Butler team to shoot far above their season averages and stay in the game. The Bulldogs started off the second half with a 7-0 run, but the Johnnies got back in the game and took control towards the end, despite losing Posh Alexander to an ankle injury down the stretch.
The Johnnies did not shoot the ball well from deep in the matchup, scoring their 75 points on 24-38 from two, 2-16 from three, and 21-25 from the line. They did a good job with turnovers and fouls, only turning the ball over six times and committing 10 fouls. Their defensive performance was not their best especially in the first half, allowing Butler to knock down some good looks from deep. Individually, Julian Champagnie led the way with a 21 point and eight rebound performance, only going 6-17 from the field, but shooting 9-10 from the line. Aaron Wheeler had a good game with 13 points and five rebounds, and Joel Soriano scored 12 points on 6-6 from the field.
Butler scored their 72 points on 67.9% from two, 35.7% from three, and went 4-5 from the line. They got a really good performance from guard Bo Hodges, who scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds, knocking down four threes. Forward Bryce Nze also had a solid performance, scoring 14 points on 7-11 from the field and grabbing six rebounds. Aaron Thompson distributed well for the Bulldogs, with nine points, four rebounds, and seven assists.
Butler Since the First Matchup
To read Butler’s full scouting report, check out our first preview.
Butler has played three games since their loss to St. John’s, losing to Creighton on the road, beating Marquette at home, and beating DePaul on the road. Their loss to Creighton came at a score of 54-52, where both teams were inefficient offensively and shot below 40% from the field. Guards Bo Hodges and Jayden Taylor had solid offensive performances, but the Bulldogs lost because their other guys struggled to put the ball in the hoop.
In their win against Marquette, who was ranked #18 at the time, the Bulldogs won 85-79 off a very good team shooting performance, making 13 of their 28 three point attempts. Big man Bryce Golden led the way in terms of scoring, with 22 points on 7-12 from the field. Bo Hodges, Chuck Harris, Bryce Nze, and Simas Lukosius all scored in double figures against the Golden Eagles.
Against DePaul, Butler snuck out a 73-71 win off a 19-point performance from Simas Lukosius and an 18-point performance from Chuck Harris. Butler struggled from deep this game, but were able to pull off the win due to strong performances from inside the arc and at the stripe. They won without the services of Bo Hodges and Bryce Nze, who are both questionable for tomorrow’s matchup against St. John’s.
St. John’s Since the First Matchup
The Johnnies have also played three games since the February 5 Butler win, losing to Villanova and UConn at home and beating Xavier on the road. The Villanova loss was a close fought 75-69 battle, where the Red Storm struggled early and made a push that came too late. Aaron Wheeler had a career night with 31 points and seven rebounds, but the team as a whole struggled to score, shooting 32% from the field and 27.3% from deep.
The Johnnies had a solid defensive effort against UConn where they held the Huskies to 63 points, but they struggled to score for themselves and lost 63-60. The Johnnies struggled from the field, from deep, and from the line, and really missed Posh Alexander in his second straight missed game.
St. John’s had a great performance against Xavier in their 86-73 win, shooting 54% from the field, 40% from deep, and 83.3% from the line. Julian Champagnie really showed up with 27 points and five assists, and Tareq Coburn provided 13 very important points on 3-3 from three point range.
Keys to the Game
Convert open looks. The Johnnies beat Xavier because they converted the looks they got, especially when open from deep and at the rim. This was something they struggled to do in their losses, and something they need to do in order to win.
Win down the stretch. Like many of the Red Storm’s games this year, the Xavier matchup looked like it could go either way, but unlike most of their games the Johnnies showed up down the stretch and took over the closing minutes of the matchup.
Don’t give Butler good looks. Butler stuck with the Johnnies because of the open looks they received in the first half, and this is something the Johnnies can’t allow again, especially after some solid performances recently from the Bulldogs.
St. John’s plays a really solid game and wins 83-71.