Looking to rebound from the first defeat of the Mike Anderson Era, the St. John’s men’s basketball team will wrap up its season-opening five-game homestand on Wednesday night when it plays host to Columbia at 7 p.m. inside Carnesecca Arena.
The game will be broadcast live nationally on FS1 with Dave Sims and Jim Spanarkel on the call. Fans can also listen to John Minko and Tarik Turner narrate the action on the Red Storm Sports Network from Learfield IMG College, available on 970 AM WNYM, TuneIn Radio and Sirius XM.
St. John’s (3-1) will seek to bounce back from its first loss of the season, a 70-68 falter at the hands of Vermont on Saturday afternoon that saw the Johnnies erase a 10-point second half deficit before a last-second jumper from reigning America East Player of the year Anthony Lamb. Following their victory, the Catamounts are now receiving votes in both the Associated Press and USA TODAY Coaches Poll.
After posting 14 points apiece in the Red Storm’s last outing, Mustapha Heron and LJ Figueroa are tied for the team lead in scoring with 18.5 points per game entering Wednesday night. Heron and Figueroa are currently tied for fourth in the BIG EAST in scoring and are the team’s biggest threats from deep, accounting for 25 of the Red Storm’s 31 made 3-pointers this season.
Both Heron and Figueroa were on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team and earned spots on watch lists for positional awards presented by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Heron was named to the watch list for the Jerry West Award, which honors the nation’s top shooting guard, for the third time in as many seasons. Figueroa found a place on the watch list for the Julius Erving Award, which recognizes the top small forward in college basketball.
Figueroa tallied his first double-double of the season on Saturday, recording 14 points and 10 rebounds. Last season, the Lawrence, Mass., native led the team with six double-doubles on the campaign, including a 19-point, 10-rebound showing in the NCAA Tournament against Arizona State.
Sophomore Josh Roberts also logged double-figure rebounds against Vermont on Saturday, pulling down a career-high 13 boards. Roberts has established himself as a dominant paint presence in his second year with the program, leading the team in rebounding (8.5 rpg) and blocks (3.3 bpg).
As a team, the Red Storm has been excelling on the glass, ranking 16th nationally with 45.2 boards per contest through games played on Monday. The Johnnies have corralled 42 or more rebounds in each of their first four outings. Prior to this season, the last time the Red Storm recorded four consecutive outings with 40 or more rebounds came during the final four contests of the 2013-14 campaign.
Columbia enters the contest with a record of 1-3 following a 60-42 loss to defending national champion Virginia on Saturday afternoon. Both of the Lions’ other two losses have been by two points, as Columbia fell by equal scores of 65-63 on the road at Lafayette and Wake Forest.
The Lions have won their only game played in the five boroughs this season, a 75-63 victory over Binghamton on Nov. 13.
In its fourth season under the direction of Head Coach Jim Engles, the Lions are led offensively by senior guard Mike Smith, who is averaging 20.0 points per game on 43.3 percent shooting. The Burr Ridge, Ill., native is also the team’s leading distributor with a shade under five per contest.
No other member of the Lions is averaging double figures on the young season.
After welcoming Columbia to Carnesecca Arena, the Red Storm will hit the road for the first time this season, traveling to Mohegan Sun for the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic. The Johnnies will open with an NCAA Tournament rematch against Arizona State on Nov. 23 before playing either Virginia or UMass the following day.
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