The St. John’s men’s basketball team will look to end the 2019-20 regular season with its second straight home win when it welcomes Marquette to Madison Square Garden for a Saturday Matinee.
Tip-off is set for 12 p.m. and will be broadcast live nationally on FSN with Brian Custer and Len Elmore on the call. To find out what channel in your area will carry the game, click here. The contest will also air live on 970 AM WNYM with John Minko and Brandon Tierney narrating the action courtside from “The World’s Most Famous Arena.” That broadcast from Learfield-IMG College can also be found on Sirius XM and TuneIn.
St. John’s (15-15, 4-13 BIG EAST) will look to cap the regular season with a win on Saturday afternoon against Markus Howard and Marquette. A victory would secure a winning regular season record for the Johnnies, who are already guaranteed the no. 9 seed in next week’s BIG EAST Tournament. The Red Storm will face eighth-seeded Georgetown in the opening game of the conference championship next Wednesday night, marking the third time in the past four seasons that the Johnnies and the Hoyas will meet in the tournament’s opening tilt.
The Red Storm suffered a setback on Wednesday at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, as the Johnnies saw an eight-point first half lead slip away against Butler. The Bulldogs found it hard to miss in the latter stanza, shooting 56.7 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent from three-point range over the final 20 minutes of action.
Julian Champagnie had the best outing of his St. John’s career against the Bulldogs, scoring 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including a 4-for-6 showing from beyond the arc. Champagnie, who had netted no more than 15 points in any one game this season heading into the matchup, scored his 16th point of the evening with 4:46 to go until halftime. Since returning to the starting lineup against Georgetown on Feb. 2, Champagnie has scored no fewer than nine points and reached double figures seven times in eight chances. The Bishop Loughlin product was named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week for the first time on Monday.
Champagnie was not the only underclassman to have a solid outing at Hinkle Fieldhouse, as Greg Williams Jr. tallied 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting. The sophomore guard from Lafayette, La., has now reached double figures in each of his last three appearances, including a career-best outing against then-No. 10 Creighton on March. 1. Entering the game having never scored more than 11 points, Williams sank seven triples en route to 21 points, tying a St. John’s single-game record for made threes against a BIG EAST foe. He sank his seven treys on just 10 tries, good enough for the second-highest single-game percentage by a St. John’s player with at least seven makes; D.J. Kennedy went 7-for-9 in a triple overtime game against DePaul on March 5, 2010.
As a team, St. John’s went 14-for-22 (63.6%) from three-point range against Creighton, setting season-highs for both made triples and three-point percentage. Prior to Sunday, the Red Storm had not shot better than 46.7 percent from three in any one game this season and had only eclipsed the 40-percent plateau on five occasions. The Red Storm last converted at a better rate from downtown on Dec. 2, 2016, when the Johnnies went 16-for-25 (64.0%) against Tulane in New Orleans.
Marquette enters the game with a record of 18-11 overall, including an 8-9 mark in BIG EAST play. The Golden Eagles have lost two straight, falling to Seton Hall at home on Feb. 29 before dropping a road decision at DePaul on Tuesday. Marquette is 3-7 in true road games this season with losses in three straight.
While St. John’s BIG EAST Tournament seed has already been sealed, Marquette can still finish anywhere between fifth and seventh in the conference depending on Saturday’s results. The top six teams in the tournament receive a bye to the quarterfinals.
Howard leads the nation in scoring, averaging 27.7 points per game this season. The top scorer in the history of the BIG EAST Conference and the reigning BIG EAST Player of the Year, Howard has scored 30 or more points 14 times in 2019-20.
Paced by Howard’s NCAA-leading 4.1 triples per game, Marquette ranks eighth nationally with 10.0 made 3-pointers per outing.
In the last meeting between the two teams on Jan. 21 in Milwaukee, St. John’s trailed by just two with eight minutes to go before Marquette closed the game on a 15-5 run. Mustapha Heron led the way for St. John’s with 18 points while LJ Figueroa (13) and Rasheem Dunn (12) also finished in double figures.
The Red Storm will look to get the best of Marquette at home for the fourth straight season. St. John’s defeated the Golden Eagles at MSG in 2016-17 before topping Marquette in Queens during both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 campaigns.
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