Looking to snap a two-game skid, the St. John’s men’s basketball team will begin its longest and toughest road swing of the season when the team heads to Omaha for a Wednesday night test against Creighton.
Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1 with Vince Welch and Nick Bahe on the call from CHI Health Center Omaha. The contest will not be available on terrestrial radio in the New York Metro Area, but can be heard on SiriusXM Channel 207 with John Minko and Brian Mahoney delivering the action.
The Red Storm (15-5, 3-5 BIG EAST) enters its midweek matchup against the Bluejays as part of an eight-team logjam in the middle of the conference standings. Following Villanova (7-0) and Marquette (7-1) at the top of the ledger, the eight remaining BIG EAST teams all boast three wins in league play. Creighton (12-8, 3-4 BIG EAST) is one of three teams with a mark of 3-4, while the Johnnies are part of a five-way tie for sixth place at 3-5.
In its last two defeats, the Red Storm has displayed an inability to convert from three-point range at a high rate. Entering its Jan. 19 contest against Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse, the Johnnies ranked 13th nationally with a three-point field goal percentage of 39.5. Since then, the Red Storm has sunk just 14 of its last 50 attempts from distance (28.0%). Over that two game stretch, the Johnnies have seen some of their most consistent deep threats go cold, as Shamorie Ponds, Mustapha Heron and Marvin Clark II have combined to go 12-of-40 from downtown.
Despite his recent struggles from distance, Ponds has still managed to stuff the stat sheet, scoring 20-plus points for the sixth-straight game on Sunday against Georgetown. He finished the contest with a team-high 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting to go along with six rebounds, three assists and two steals. On the season, Ponds ranks third in the BIG EAST in scoring average (20.6 ppg), while leading the league in assists (5.6 apg), steals (2.6 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8-to-1). Through games played on Monday, he is one of just three players in the nation to place in the top 40 individually in both scoring and assists alongside Murray State’s Ja Morant and Howard’s RJ Cole. He is also the only player in Division I to rank inside the top 40 in points per game (32nd), assists per game (32nd) and steals per game (10th).
St. John’s will look to secure its first ever win in Omaha, as the Red Storm is 0-7 all-time on the road against the Bluejays dating back to Dec. 7, 1962. Since Creighton entered the BIG EAST prior to the start of the 2013-14 academic year, three of the Red Storm’s five losses in Omaha have come by seven points or fewer. Last season against Creighton in the Cornhusker State, St. John’s led by double digits in the second half before a late 18-2 run helped seal a victory for the Bluejays.
On Jan. 16, the Johnnies snapped a six-game losing streak against Creighton, as Ponds scored 22 points and dished out five assists in the Red Storm’s third conference win of the season. As a team, St. John’s shot 47.7 percent from the floor and 43.8 percent from distance in that game while limiting the Bluejays to a 31.4 percent clip from three-point range, well below their average from beyond the arc. Through games played on Monday, Creighton ranks second in the nation with a three-point field goal percentage of 42.6.
Creighton has won its last two games since falling in Queens, downing Georgetown on the road before pulling away from Butler at home. Ty-Shon Alexander earned BIG EAST Player of the Week honors on Monday for his efforts in those two wins, averaging 22.5 and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and from three. Last time out against the Johnnies, Alexander scored 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting, including a 2-for-10 showing from distance.
After their contest with Creighton, the Johnnies will face consecutive top-10 opponents on the road, traveling to No. 2 Duke on Saturday before attempting to hand No. 10 Marquette its first loss this season at Fiserv Forum.
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