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St. John’s vs. Dayton preview: Predictions, keys, and odds

The Red Storm have a chance to advance to the Charleston Classic championship game with a win

NCAA Basketball: Charleston Classic-St. John at North Texas David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information

Who: St. John’s Red Storm vs. Dayton Flyers (2-1)

When: Friday, November 17, 2023, 2:00 p.m.

Where: TD Arena, Charleston, South Carolina

TV: ESPN2 and ESPN App

Odds: St. John’s (+1), O/U at 138.5

After a gritty, not pretty first round win over North Texas yesterday, St. John’s is immediately back in action to face the Atlantic-10’s Dayton Flyers in the Charleston Classic winner’s bracket semifinals. Dayton was able to mount an impressive 16-point comeback in the second half against LSU, with Nate Santos burying the game-winning three with 10 seconds to go.

Scouting the Flyers

Much like North Texas, the Flyers will clamp down in the halfcourt and play an extremely slow tempo. Since 2021-22, Dayton has resided in the bottom 20 of KenPom tempo.

This will be a matchup of the bigs. Two-time All-Atlantic 10 center DaRon Holmes is back for his third season after withdrawing from the NBA draft process this summer. He did struggle in yesterday’s contest against LSU, but he notched 17 points and picked up 7 rebounds in a very close loss to Northwestern last Friday. How Joel Soriano performs against one of the best big men in the country will likely dictate whether St. John’s wins.

Holmes’s sidekick was going to be guard Malachi Smith, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury in their opener against SIU Edwardsville. Veteran guard Kobe Elvis (5.7 ppg) and Merrimack transfer Javon Bennett (11.0 ppg) have split ball-handling duties in Smith’s absence.

The aforementioned Nate Santos (12.0 ppg) appears as if he will become Holmes’s new sidekick. After he spent the first two seasons of his college career as a reserve at Pittsburgh, he’s enjoyed a mini-breakout to open this season. Junior guard Koby Brea (11.3) is the team’s pre-eminent three-point threat, shooting 45 percent from beyond and averaging three treys made per game early in this season.

Keys to the Game

Deny DaRon - With Malachi Smith out for the season, Dayton’s offense will almost exclusively run through DaRon Holmes. Joel Soriano needs to close off the paint and have a great defensive performance in order to silence Holmes, and by extension, the Dayton offense.

Move the ball - Like North Texas, Dayton will keep this game in the halfcourt. St. John’s struggled immensely to produce high-quality shots when the game slowed down. The Red Storm need to show better execution in their halfcourt actions and they also need to share the rock a little more in order to produce better shots.

Can’t Miss, Daniss - It’s abundantly clear that Daniss Jenkins has been given the keys to the offense for these first few games and he’s been very volatile in his production. He’s drilled some impressive shots when the offense gets into a funk, but he has been very sloppy in taking care of possession by coughing up the ball at least four times in each of his first three games. St. John’s needs him to be sharp if they want to maintain momentum in a close game.


The Red Storm’s halfcourt offensive struggles have been extremely concerning to say the least. With no rest or time to practice, these issues will continue to rear its head against a stout Dayton defense. Dayton wins by five.