After splitting a pair of games last weekend at the Air Force Reserve Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament at Mohegan Sun, the St. John’s men’s basketball will begin a five-game homestand on Saturday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena, welcoming Wagner to Queens for a 12 p.m. tip.
The game will be broadcast live nationally on FS2 with John Fanta and Sarah Kustok on the call. The contest will also be carried on the Red Storm Sports Network presented by Learfield IMG College with John Minko and Vin Parise calling the action live from Queens. That audio broadcast can be found on 570 WMCA, TuneIn and Sirius XM.
The Johnnies (5-2) return to Queens for the first of five straight home games beginning on Saturday. The Red Storm will then host Saint Peter’s on Tuesday night before making its Madison Square Garden debut against West Virginia on Dec. 7. St. John’s will then welcome Brown (Dec. 10) and Albany (Dec. 18) to Queens before closing out non-conference play against Arizona in San Francisco on Dec. 21.
This past weekend at Mohegan Sun Arena, the Red Storm fell to Arizona State in the semifinal of the Air Force Reserve Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament before topping UMass the following day. The Johnnies led by nine at the break against the Sun Devils before Remy Martin scored 17 of his 19 game-high points to orchestrate a second-half comeback for Arizona State.
Just over 24 hours later, it was the Red Storm’s turn to display some late heroics, as David Caraher scored 12 of his season-high 17 points in 18 minutes of second-half action to key a St. John’s comeback. Caraher shot 6-of-8 from the floor on the afternoon, including a 3-for-5 showing from three-point range. The 2017-18 Southland Conference Freshman of the Year at Houston Baptist, Caraher was one of three Johnnies to finish in double figures alongside Josh Roberts and Julian Champagnie.
Roberts’ 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting against the Minutemen set a new career-best for the sophomore, who has now set a new career-high for points three times already this season in just seven tries. Roberts, who averaged just 6.3 minutes in 18 appearances as a freshman, continued to be a force in the paint, collecting eight boards and blocking three shots. Through games played on Thursday, Roberts ranks fifth in the BIG EAST in rebounds per game while leading the BIG EAST with 3.0 blocks per outing.
Champagnie continued the consistent start to his St. John’s career, earning a spot on the All-Tournament Team at Mohegan Sun after averaging 13.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals during the Red Storm’s 1-1 weekend. The Brooklyn native shot 50.0 percent (8-of-16) from the floor, 40.0 percent from three-point range (2-of-5) and 81.8 percent (9-of-11) from the free throw line. Champagnie, whose father won a national championship with the St. John’s men’s soccer team in 1996, is averaging 11.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while recording no fewer than eight points or six rebounds in any one contest.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Sunday’s win was the Red Storm’s ability to erase a late deficit despite the fact that none of its top three scorers on the season reached double figures.
Wagner takes the short trek to Queens on the heels of a 2-4 start to the season. Only one of those two wins came against a Division I foe, as the Seahawks topped St. John’s Tuesday opponent, Saint Peter’s, in overtime on Nov. 20. Wagner also went to overtime on Saturday at home against Stony Brook before the Seawolves prevailed, 87-84.
Four Wagner players are averaging double figures on the season, led by Curtis Cobb III at 21.6 points per game. After scoring seven points in his Wagner debut against Seton Hall on Nov. 5, the UMass grad transfer has tallied no fewer than 17 in any of his next four outings, including a 40-point showing in the Seahawks’ win over Division III Wesley on Nov. 12.
St. John’s and Wagner will meet for the 21st time in the history of the two programs with the Red Storm holding an 18-2 record against the Seahawks dating back to 1935. The Johnnies have won 11 straight contests against Wagner, including a Dec. 16 victory last season inside Carnesecca Arena that featured a near triple-double from Shamorie Ponds, as the two-time First Team All-BIG EAST selection tallied 16 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds in a 73-58 victory. Wagner has not defeated St. John’s since 1956.
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