The St. John’s Men’s Basketball team will close the non-conference portion of its regular season schedule on Saturday when it welcomes the Wolverines of Utah Valley University to Carnesecca Arena.
Tip-off for the first-ever meeting between the two programs is scheduled for 4 p.m. on FS1 and 970 AM WNYM. John Fanta and Tarik Turner will handle the broadcasting duties on television while John Minko and Brandon Tierney will call the action from Queens over the airwaves. The Learfield-IMG College Red Storm Sports Network radio broadcast will also be available through TuneIn Radio as well as SiriusXM.
St. John’s (8-7, 3-6 BIG EAST) and Utah Valley (5-5, 3-0 WAC) announced their game on Wednesday. The Red Storm, which defeated No. 23/RV Connecticut in its most recent outing on Monday, was scheduled to have nine days off before returning to BIG EAST play against DePaul in Chicago on Jan. 27. Utah Valley last played on Jan. 15, a 93-92 win over Seattle University, and was not scheduled to play again until Jan. 29.
Saturday will mark the seventh and final game of regular season non-conference play for the Johnnies. The Red Storm went 5-1 against non-league foes prior to the start of the BIG EAST schedule, including a 4-0 record in games played at Carnesecca Arena. Vince Cole led the Johnnies with 17.5 points per game in those four victories, including a season-high 26 points against Rider and a 21-point effort against Saint Peter’s in the season opener.
The Red Storm’s lone defeat of non-league play came at the hands of another team from Utah, as the Johnnies fell to BYU, 74-68, on Dec. 2 at Mohegan Sun.
Five Johnnies, all New Yorkers, finished in double figures during that most recent victory against No. 23 UConn, the Red Storm’s first road win and first ranked win of the season. Posh Alexander tallied a game-high 18 points to go along with six assists and three steals. Marcellus Earlington scored 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including a perfect 3-for-3 showing from three-point range. Julian Champagnie added 12 points while Rasheem Dunn netted 11 and Dylan Addae-Wusu chipped in 10. The effort marked the third time this season that five different Johnnies finished in double figures.
Entering the weekend, Champagnie and Alexander each lead the BIG EAST in a statistical category, as Champagnie paces the league with 20.0 points per outing and Alexander sits atop the steal standings with 2.5 per outing. Champagnie is tied for 33rd nationally in points per game while Alexander is tied for 13th nationally overall and first among freshmen in steals through games played on Thursday. Neither of the Brooklyn natives could be considered one-dimensional, as Champagnie also ranks among the top 10 in the BIG EAST in rebounding (7.2- 8th), steals (1.7-6th) and blocks (1.2-9th). Alexander ranks first among conference freshmen and fourth overall in assists with 4.6 per contest. Nationwide, Alexander ranks 81st in assists per game and seventh among freshmen in that category.
Utah Valley sits atop the WAC standings after sweeping a two-game series from Cal Baptist at home and outlasting Seattle in a single contest on the road. The Wolverines went 2-5 in a pre-conference schedule played entirely within the state of Utah, falling to BYU, Utah and Weber State on the road while dropping home contests to Southern Utah and Wyoming. The Wolverines picked up both of their non-conference wins against Division II opponents, topping Adams State and Westminster College in Orem.
The Wolverines are led offensively by Jamison Overton, a 6-foot-6 senior guard from San Diego who is averaging 18.9 points per game. Utah Valley’s second leading scorer also happens to be the nation’s top rebounder, as 6-foot-11 redshirt sophomore Fardaws Aimaq is averaging 17.5 points and 15.1 boards in 31.7 minutes per game. Two other Wolverines are averaging double figures on the season, as junior guard Trey Woodbury, a UNLV transfer, adds 15.4 points per contest while Cole Evan, a grad transfer from Georgia Tech, chips in 11.9.
Utah Valley is led from the sideline by Mark Madsen, a former All-American at Stanford and two-time NBA Champion with the Los Angeles Lakers. Madsen spent six seasons as an assistant coach with the Lakers prior to taking over at Utah Valley before the 2019-20 campaign.
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