The St. John’s men’s basketball team will play its final game in Queens this season on Sunday afternoon when it welcomes No. 10/11 Creighton to Carnesecca Arena.
Tip-off is scheduled for 12 p.m. on FS1 and 970 AM WNYM. Brian Custer and Len Elmore will have the television call while John Minko and Brandon Tierney will narrate the game over the airwaves. The Red Storm Sports Network audio broadcast from Learfield-IMG College can also be found on TuneIn and Sirius XM.
St. John’s (14-14, 3-12 BIG EAST) will look to snap a three-game skid when it welcomes its third consecutive nationally ranked opponent to Queens. The last time the Red Storm hosted a top-10 team at Carnesecca Arena also came in the midst of a three-game stretch against ranked foes, as the Johnnies hosted No. 6 Xavier on Jan. 30, 2018. St. John’s lost that game, but would go on to win its next two over No. 4 Duke and No. 1 Villanova.
A win over the Bluejays (22-6, 11-4 BIG EAST) would give the Johnnies their first victory over a top-10 opponent on campus since Dec. 9, 1975. In that game, Beaver Smith scored 22 points while Frank Alagia added 15 points and seven assists in a 79-70 win over No. 7 Tennessee. The Volunteers were led by sophomore forward Bernard King, as the Brooklyn native and future Knicks star tallied game-highs of 24 points and 17 rebounds.
The Red Storm has defeated a top-25 foe at Carnesecca Arena in two of the last three seasons, taking down No. 13 Butler in 2016-17 before downing No. 16 Marquette during the 2018-19 campaign. Overall, St. John’s is 1-6 against ranked opponents this season and has dropped six straight since topping No. 16/17 Arizona in San Francisco on Dec. 21.
St. John’s returns to the friendly confines of Carnesecca Arena after consecutive double-digit road losses to No. 16 Seton Hall and No. 12 Villanova. Those falters followed a narrow defeat at the hands of Xavier inside Madison Square Garden, a game in which the Johnnies held a lead with just over 10 seconds remaining after pulling ahead by as many as seven in the closing minutes of the contest.
Four Johnnies finished in double figures at Villanova at Wednesday, led by Rasheem Dunn and Marcellus Earlington at 12 points apiece. Since the last time the Red Storm faced Creighton on Feb. 8, Earlington has been the team’s top producer, averaging 14.4 points to go along with 6.2 rebounds over the team’s last five outings. Earlington was lights out from three during the first three games of that stretch, hitting six of his 10 tries from beyond the arc.
Julian Champagnie and Greg Williams Jr. tallied 10 points apiece against the Wildcats. Since returning to the starting lineup against Georgetown on Feb. 2, Champagnie has scored no fewer than nine points in any one game with five outings in double figures. The Brooklyn native has two double-doubles in his last six games, including a 14-point, 11-rebound showing against Seton Hall in Newark. Williams has also started each of the Red Storm’s last six games, averaging 5.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per outing during that stretch. On Wednesday at Villanova, Williams reached double figures for the third time during BIG EAST play and was the only member of the Johnnies to connect on a trey, going 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.
On Wednesday night, the Red Storm surrendered only four turnovers for the second time in its last three games. On the year, St. John’s ranks second in Division I with an average turnover margin of +5.8. The Red Storm forced seven of Villanova’s 13 turnovers via the steal, a category in which the Red Storm ranks third nationally with 10.0 per game.
Creighton, who enters the weekend one game behind Seton Hall at the top of the BIG EAST standings, comes to Queens having won five straight and nine of its last 10 overall. The Bluejays began their current streak with a victory over St. John’s on Feb. 8, a game the Red Storm lost despite scoring 82 points and connecting on 11 3-pointers. Creighton shot the lights out during that last meeting in Omaha, scoring 94 points on 60.3 percent shooting, including a 13-of-28 showing from beyond the arc.
The Bluejays rank among the nation’s leaders in a number of key offensive categories, averaging 78.2 points per game (25th) thanks to a 47.1 field goal percentage (27th) and a 38.5 three-point percentage (9th). Creighton also averages 15.8 assists per game (19th) and ranks seventh nationally with a 1.41 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Ty-Shon Alexander and Marcus Zegarowski lead the Creighton offensive charge, averaging 16.9 and 16.1 points per game, respectively. Two other Bluejays average double figures, as Mitch Ballock posts 12.0 points per outing and Denzel Mahoney sits right behind him at 11.8 per game. Ballock, a junior from Eudora, Kan., ranks in the top 10 nationally in both three-point percentage (44.2%) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.27).
St. John’s will look to pick up its third win in four tries against the Bluejays, as the Red Storm swept Creighton during the regular season in 2018-19. Both of those wins came by at least 15 points, including an 81-66 triumph at Carnesecca Arena on Jan. 16 during which LJ Figueroa finished with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting and 13 rebounds.
After facing off with Creighton, the Red Storm will head to Butler for a March 4 showdown. The Johnnies will then close out the 2019-20 regular season with a March 7 contest against Marquette at Madison Square Garden.
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