For the first time since 2007-08, St. John's will battle against the Niagara Purple Eagles, of the MAAC, at Carnesecca Arena. The game is slated to tip off Tuesday at 7 and will be seen on Fox Sports 1 for those who cannot make it to Queens.
The Red Storm have won their last five regular season contests at Carnesecca Arena and in their three wins there this season they are averaging almost 80 points per game.
The Johnnies are coming off a very helpful Thanksgiving week where they finished 1-1 in the NIT Tip-Off Classic at Madison Square Garden. St. John's beat Minnesota in a crucial resume-building game on Wednesday but struggled with Gonzaga's front court on Friday in a loss in the championship game.
D`Angelo Harrison was named to the BIG EAST honor roll as he averaged 17 points per game and 7 rebounds per game in the two matchups.
The Johnnies also received five votes for the AP Top 25. Only two Big East squads are ranked (Villanova, Butler) but Georgetown, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Creighton all received multiple votes.
According to the points-per-game stats, St. John's has one of the better defenses in the Big East so far this season (allowing 65 points per game) despite giving up 81 points to Franklin Pierce earlier this season. They have started to play with more energy on that side of the ball the last few games. Chris Obekpa is one of the leaders defensively for the Johnnies as he is averaging 4.7 blocks per game in his last three games.
Meanwhile, former St. John's assistant Chris Casey has led the Purple Eagles to a 1-3 record to open up the season. Their one victory comes against a 2-5 St. Peter's team and they also played former Big East foe, Pittsburgh, and lost 78-45. After losing the nation's top scorer, Antoine Mason, to Auburn, Rayvon Harris is now leading the way for Niagara with 11.3 PPG.
Three other Purple Eagle players, Emile Blackman (10.5 PPG), Ramone Snowden (10.3 PPG) and Karonn Davis, (10.0) are averaging double digits.
The major issues for Niagara so far this year is a lack of ball distribution and a dearth of big bodies. The leading assist man on the team, Wesley Myers, is only averaging 1.5 assists per game; their tallest player is freshman DayJar Dickson (6' 9") and only teammate Dominique Reid i(6'8") s taller than 6'6".
Even though this game may favor St. John's on paper, the Johnnies cannot overlook Niagara and they must shoot better than 37 percent from the field.
They put their all into the championship game versus Gonzaga so they have to make sure they don't come out of the gate sluggishly. And the issues from the Gonzaga game could bite them against lowly Niagara, as well.
Chris Obekpa and Sir`Dominic Pointer must avoid foul trouble and it is important that Rysheed Jordan is able to limit his turnovers after having nine in the last game.
Rumble will have coverage up until Tip-off tomorrow night at 7.