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St. John’s Men’s Basketball Heads to Indiana for Gavitt Tipoff Games

The St. John’s Men’s Basketball team will venture outside of Queens on Wednesday for the first time this season, traveling to Indiana for a Gavitt Games showdown with the Hoosiers.

Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. on FS1 with Kevin Kugler and Stephen Bardo on the call from Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.  Fans can hear the St. John’s audio broadcast on a variety of different platforms including The Varsity Network app, TuneInSirius XM and RedStormSports.com. The call of John Minko and Brian Mahoney can also be found on the brand new St. John’s Red Storm mobile app released this past week.

St. John’s and Indiana are two of the 10 winningest programs in the history of college basketball.  Entering Wednesday’s matchup, the Johnnies have won 1,889 games in 115 varsity seasons, good enough for ninth all-time, while Indiana is right behind them in 10th with 1,871 victories in 122 campaigns.

St. John’s (2-0) will make its fifth appearance in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, an annual series between the BIG EAST and Big Ten celebrating the legacy of BIG EAST founder and basketball visionary Dave Gavitt. The Red Storm is 3-1 all-time in the Gavitt Games, good enough for both the highest win total and winning percentage of any BIG EAST team in the event.  Indiana is 2-1 all-time in the Gavitt Games.

The Red Storm, which received votes in Monday’s Associated Press poll, heads to Bloomington following a pair of lopsided wins to open the 2021-22 campaign. Last Tuesday in Carnesecca Arena, the Johnnies dropped the Delta Devils of Mississippi Valley State by a score of 119-61. The 58-point margin of victory was the largest by a St. John’s team since Nov. 28, 1951, when the Redmen defeated now-defunct Arnold College, 93-33. Later that season, the Johnnies would go on to defeat Indiana in Bloomington on Feb. 2. The Red Storm’s 119 points against MVSU were the third highest single-game total in program history and the most since Malik Sealy’s 43 points led St. John’s to a record-setting 135-92 win over Central Connecticut State on Nov. 24, 1990.

Just four days after disposing of the Delta Devils in devastating fashion, St. John’s cruised to a 91-70 win over Saint Peter’s, a team that was picked to finish second in the MAAC and held a late lead over VCU in Richmond just a few days prior. The Red Storm never trailed and led by double digits for the final 34 minutes of the contest.

For his efforts in those first two games, Julian Champagnie earned a spot on Monday’s BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll. The unanimous Preseason First Team All-BIG EAST pick averaged 21.0 points on 51.9 percent shooting and added 4.0 rebounds per game during the Red Storm’s 2-0 start. Champagnie, who led the BIG EAST in scoring a season ago, was named to preseason watch lists for The Wooden Award, The Naismith Trophy, the NABC Player of the Year Award and the Julius Erving Award.

Joining Champagnie on a Preseason All-BIG EAST Team was Posh Alexander, who is off to a similarly auspicious start to 2021-22. Alexander has been surgical from the field, averaging 15.0 points per game on 73.3 percent shooting (11-of-15), including a 6-for-9 showing from beyond the arc.  The Brooklyn native is also dishing out a team-best 8.0 assists per outing.  Last season, Alexander became just the third player in conference history to win BIG EAST Freshman of the Year and BIG EAST Player of the Year simultaneously, joining Patrick Ewing (1982) and Allen Iverson (1995) in that esteemed fraternity.

Indiana, which placed second among teams in the Others Receiving Votes category in this week’s AP poll, is also 2-0 on the young season following a narrow win over Eastern Michigan and a dismantling of Northern Illinois, both of which came at Assembly Hall.

Under the direction of first-year head coach Mike Woodson, Indiana is led on the court by Preseason AP All-American and reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Trayce Jackson-Davis, who is averaging 20.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Pitt transfer Xavier Johnson is pouring in 13.5 points per contest while redshirt senior Race Thompson has collected 10 rebounds in each of his first two appearances.

St. John’s and Indiana will meet for the eighth time on Wednesday with the Hoosiers holding a 5-2 advantage all-time against their opponents from The Big Apple.  The Johnnies kicked off the series with the aforementioned win in 1952, a season that saw St. John’s finish as the NCAA runner-up.  Indiana defeated St. John’s twice during its undefeated 1975-76 national championship season, once in the title game of the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden and again in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.  The Hoosiers won both ends of a home-and-home in 1991 and 1992 before the Red Storm claimed a Second Round NCAA Tournament over Indiana on its way to an Elite Eight appearance in 1999.  In the last meeting between the two teams during the 2015 Maui Invitational, the Hoosiers claimed a 10-point victory. 

After Wednesday’s game in Bloomington, the Red Storm will play the remaining eight games of its non-conference slate in the New York Metropolitan Area, highlighted by a Dec. 3 date with Kansas at UBS Arena and a Dec. 18 showdown against Pitt at The Garden.

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