After a dominant home win against Butler and a four day gap between games, St. John’s looks to get their third straight win tomorrow at home against the Creighton Bluejays.
Creighton comes into the matchup sitting at fourth in Big East standings, with KenPom ranking of #64 and a NET ranking of #62. They are currently on a five game winning streak that includes three wins at home and two wins on the road.
St. John’s has won their last two games against Xavier on the road and Butler at home, and both of those performances are among the best the Johnnies have had all season. The Red Storm have put themselves back on the cusp of March conversations, with a KenPom of #60 and a NET of #66. This matchup against the Bluejays will be very important in determining the future of the Red Storm’s season.
St. John’s fans will be wearing white for a “White Out” game.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (15-11, 7-8 Big East) vs Creighton Bluejays (18-8, 10-5 Big East)
When: Wednesday, February 23, 2022, 6:30 PM
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, New York
Odds: St. John’s -5
Recapping the First Matchup
The Bluejays and Johnnies faced off about a month ago on January 19 at CenturyLink Center, where Creighton’s impressive shooting performance and a poor game all around from St. John’s led to a 87-64 home win for the Bluejays.
Creighton’s 49 point first half led to a 15 point halftime lead, which they did not let up on in the second half. The Bluejays went on multiple runs throughout the game where they received a lot of open looks and the Johnnies could not generate offense.
Creighton shot the ball very well, going 31-62 from the field including 14-27 from deep, and made 11 of their 15 shots at the stripe. They outrebounded St. John’s 46-28, and the one area where they struggled was turnovers, which they had 18 of. Individually for Creighton, wing Alex O’Connell had a monster game, scoring 28 points and grabbing seven rebounds, going 9-14 from the field, 6-9 from deep, and 4-4 from the line.
Forward Arthur Kaluma had a 20 point performance, and center Ryan Kalkbrenner was a presence in the paint, with nine points and 11 rebounds, seven of which were offensive rebounds. Freshman guard Trey Alexander provided a quality 21 minutes off the bench, with 11 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
The Johnnies really struggled to shoot the ball, going 27-70 from the field, 5-20 from deep, and 5-12 from the line. They were outworked on the glass, struggled getting looks on offense, and gave up tons of open shots on defense in one of their worst team performances of the season.
Aaron Wheeler provided the Red Storm’s best individual performance, with 16 points and six rebounds on 7-10 from the field. Julian Champagnie scored 17, but only made one third of his shots from the floor. Dylan Addae-Wusu was the only other player in double figures, as he had a solid all around game with 10 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, and three steals.
Creighton Since the First Matchup
To check out Creighton’s full scouting report, see our first preview.
Since beating the Red Storm, Creighton has played 10 games, winning seven of them. Their wins have come at home against DePaul, Butler, Georgetown, and Marquette and on the road at UConn, Georgetown, and DePaul. The Bluejays have lost to Xavier at home and Butler and Seton Hall on the road.
For Creighton, three-point shooting is a big part of their success, shooting below 30% from deep in all three losses since beating the Johnnies. They have shot the ball well recently, with a field goal percentage of 47% and a three point percentage of 35% in their recent five game winning streak. In this winning streak, they have also forced their opponents to shoot the ball poorly, as their opponents have shot 39.6% from the field and 25.8% from three. Creighton has almost doubled the assist numbers of their opponents, averaging 16.4 assists in their past five games compared to an opponent average of 8.6.
In terms of personnel, one key player Creighton will be missing tomorrow is Arthur Kaluma, who is out with a knee injury. He is a key player for the Bluejays, and someone who did a lot in their first matchup with the Johnnies. Otherwise, Crieghton is a team that gets good games out of different players depending on the matchup, and have a lot of different players who could lead the team in scoring.
St. John’s Since the First Matchup
Since losing to Creighton, St. John’s has also played five games, winning five and losing five. They’ve beaten Butler at home, and earned road wins at Seton Hall, Georgetown, Butler, and Xavier. Their losses have come at home to Seton Hall, Providence, Villanova, and UConn and on the road at Villanova.
St. John’s is also a team that succeeds when they hit their shots, winning the games where they convert their looks from inside and behind the arc. One thing to look at will be how they perform at the line, as free throws have been both a positive and negative thing for the Red Storm of late. In their past two games, St. John’s has been outstanding offensively, averaging a field goal percentage of 57.5%, a three point percentage of 45.2%, and a free throw percentage of 87%. This is something that if kept up, could be huge in beating Creighton.
Individually, St. John’s recently got guard Posh Alexander returning to action in the past couple of games.
Julian Champagnie has also been a big story of late, breaking out of his offensive slump with a 27 point performance against Xavier and a 31 point performance against Butler, good enough to earn him Big East Player of the Week.
Keys to the Game
Prevent open looks. Creighton won the first matchup because of the open looks they were given from deep. The Johnnies need to tighten up their defense and prevent this from happening in order to win.
Stay hot on offense. The Red Storm need to keep doing what’s been working for them on offense. Another high scoring game with a big contribution from Champagnie will be huge against the Bluejays.
Rebound. St. John’s cannot allow Ryan Kalkbrenner and Creighton to dominate the glass the way they did in the first matchup, and need to put more effort into their rebounding game.
Creighton keeps it close but St. John’s guts out a 84-82 win.