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St. John’s vs. Providence men’s basketball preview and game thread

The Red Storm look to maintain their strong Big East start against the Friars

Providence Friars mascot on the floor during the Quarterfinal round of the Big East Basketball Tournament against the Connecticut Huskies at Madison Square Garden on March 9, 2023 in New York City. Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Johnnies are rolling and look to build on their three-game winning streak with a home victory over the Providence Friars on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

St. John’s decisively beat Villanova in their last game, 81-71, in another Big East win in which the Red Storm never trailed. It was the first time St. John’s beat Villanova on their campus since January 13, 1993.

Meanwhile, Providence is still reeling from losing Bryce Hopkins for the season after he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in a loss against Seton Hall last week. In their last contest, they dropped a 69-60 loss to Creighton on Saturday afternoon.

Game information

Who: St. John’s Red Storm vs. Providence Friars (11-4)

When: Wednesday, January 10, 2024, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

TV: FS1

Opening Odds: St. John’s (-5.5), O/U at 142.5

Series History: St. John’s leads, 65-57.

Résumé review

St. John’s is 11-4 overall and has started 3-1 in Big East play for the first time since the 2010-11 season. St. John’s is currently rated 38th in KenPom and 34th in NET rankings; both are fifth-highest among Big East teams. Their records by NET quadrants are as follows, with opponents defeated in bold:

  • 2-2 in Quad 1 games (Utah, Dayton, @ UConn, @ Villanova)
  • 3-1 in Quad 2 games (North Texas, Boston College, Xavier, Butler)
  • 2-1 in Quad 3 games (Michigan, @ West Virginia, Hofstra)
  • 4-0 in Quad 4 games (Stony Brook, Holy Cross, Sacred Heart, Fordham)

Note that Dayton, Utah, North Texas, and Boston College are designated as neutral site games

Facing Providence (NET #56) at home gives St. John’s an opportunity to have their fourth Quad 2 victory of the season.

St. John’s is seeded in 42 of 51 different bracketology selections with an average seed of 9.76, according to Bracket Matrix’s update on January 8. In his latest update, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi has moved St. John’s up to a 9-seed.

Injury update

According to Jon Rothstein, Chris Ledlum will play tonight against Providence, but in a “limited” role. Ledlum missed the previous game with a sprained ankle, which he originally suffered against UConn on December 23rd.

Scouting the Friars

St. John’s will be facing their toughest defensive test yet this season.

Providence has adopted a mentality as a gritty defense-first team through the first 15 games of Kim English’s tenure as head coach of the Friars. They rank a mediocre 155th in KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency but are 4th in adjusted defensive efficiency. If simple percentages are more of your speed, the Friars allow 42.1% from two (7th-lowest in the country) and 30.5% from three (59th-lowest in the country). Their interior defense is a veritable black hole for opposing teams.

CBBAnalytics.com

It’s a more complicated picture, offensively. Yes, they rank top-50 in two-point shooting percentage at 54.8%, but they are a lousy three-point shooting team, making 32.7% of their deep-range attempts. The Friars can also beat themselves, shooting 68.5% from the free-throw line and turning the ball over on 18.9% of possessions.

They also just lost All-Big East player and gifted slasher Bryce Hopkins, who was second in team scoring at 15.5 points per game, for the remainder of the season. Junior guard Devin Carter was already the leading scorer (16.9 ppg), but he shoulders significant responsibility as the undisputed number-one scoring option after Hopkins’s injury.

Carter has been an instant offense, bucket-getting type of player for Providence and has excelled in this role. He has seen his shooting efficiency skyrocket, going from 42.7% from the field and 29.9% from three last season to shooting 48.0% from the field and 39.1% from three.

George Mason transfers Josh Oduro (14.3 ppg) and Ticket Gaines (8.6 ppg) have followed their head coach to Providence, and they have adjusted well to the speed of the Big East. Oduro stands at 6-foot-5 and flashes some playmaking ability with a 14.8% assist rate, and he also bears some traditional collegiate big-man traits. He has a 5.0% block and a 19.9% defensive rebound percentage, both solid clips for a high-major big. Gaines is a decent off-ball scoring option who flashes a quick trigger, with good lateral quickness and length to wall off driving ball-handlers.

Sophomore guard Jayden Pierre leads the Friars in three-point percentage at 42.5% shooting and is a proven distributor with an 18.4% assist rate, but he tends to give the ball away, as his 28.5% turnover rate illustrates. The mystery box of potential on this team comes in the form of top-40 freshman Garwey Dual. The precocious two-way talent is still quietly adjusting to high-major college basketball, but the possibility for a breakout game always looms.

Keys to the game

Shut down Carter - Devin Carter is the engine of this Friars offense. When he shoots better than 50 percent from the field this season, Providence is a flawless 6-0. When he shoots 50 percent or worse, Providence is an even 4-4. The Friars have lost a lot of bite with Hopkins out for the season, so if St. John’s can keep Carter from going supernova, they should have a good chance of winning.

Take advantage of turnovers - A glaring weakness for Providence is their propensity to cough up the rock. St. John’s must exploit high-quality opportunities, especially against a stout half-court team like Providence.

Stay hot from the field - Sometimes, the intangibles are all that matter. The Red Storm kept burying jumpers against Villanova, even shots that were low-percentage contested prayers (hi, Daniss Jenkins). The Red Storm’s shooting edge could be the difference against a hostile Providence defense.

Prediction

The Red Storm are riding a wave of momentum from their hot start to conference play, but Providence can be such a testy team, even on the road where they are less potent than at their home fortress, formerly known as “The Dunk.” However, the recent loss of Bryce Hopkins saps a critical dynamic to this Friars team and the Red Storm hold a clear edge with their depth scoring and shotmaking. St. John’s wins in a tightrope walk, 65-61.