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Red Storm Heads to No. 16/17 Providence on Saturday

 After kicking off BIG EAST play with a win over DePaul on Wednesday, the St. John’s men’s basketball team will look to remain unbeaten in the league when it travels to Providence for a Saturday showdown with the No. 16/17 Friars. 

Tip-off from the Dunkin’ Donuts Center is set for 12 p.m. on FS1 with John Fanta and Vin Parise on the call.  Fans can also hear the LEARFIELD Red Storm Sports Network broadcast with John Minko and Tarik Turner on a variety of platforms including The Varsity Network app, TuneIn, XM channel 392 and channel 982 in the SXM app, RedStormSports.com and the St. John’s Red Storm mobile app.

St. John’s (9-3, 1-0 BIG EAST) heads to The Ocean State after handling DePaul, 89-84, at Carnesecca Arena in its BIG EAST opener.  The Johnnies were the second-to-last team in the conference to begin BIG EAST play after seeing its four scheduled league games called off due to COVID protocols.  Three of those contests have since been rescheduled for later in the season.

Saturday’s contest will mark the start of a grueling, but critical stretch for the Red Storm. Beginning Saturday, five of the team’s next seven games will come on the road and six of the next seven will likely present an opportunity at a Quad 1 win.  As it stands, 11 of the Red Storm’s remaining 18 league games will give the Johnnies a chance at a Quad 1 victory in the eyes of the selection committee.

Twenty-four days removed from his last game, Julian Champagnie was nothing short of sensational for the Johnnies on Wednesday as they won a BIG EAST opener for the first time since 2016-17.  The junior from Brooklyn tallied career-highs of 34 points and 16 boards, scoring 14 of the team’s final 20 points over the closing eight minutes of action.  Champagnie shot 12-of-22 from the floor and 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, eclipsing the 30-point plateau for the third time in his career and becoming the first Johnnie since D’Angelo Harrison in 2014-15 to put up an effort of 30-plus points and 15-plus rebounds.  According to Stats Perform, Champagnie became just the third high-major player in the last 25 years to record 30 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks and three 3-pointers in a single game. The other two were Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley.

On the season, Champagnie is now averaging 21.5 points per game, good enough for first in the BIG EAST and sixth in the country.  The Bishop Loughlin product also ranks among the top 10 in the conference in steals (1.9- 2nd), rebounding (7.5- 8th) and blocks (1.6- 7th).

Champagnie, whose 34 points tied the highest single-game output by a BIG EAST player this season, was not the only Johnnie to put up stellar numbers against the Blue Demons.  Sophomore guard Dylan Addae-Wusu tallied a career-best 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting and dished out eight assists.  Addae-Wusu’s final field goal of the night was a dagger, as he drilled a left-wing triple with 28 seconds to go to make it six-point game in favor of the Red Storm. 

Two other Johnnies finished in double figures on Wednesday, as Posh Alexander scored 16 points thanks in large part to a 3-of-6 showing from deep while Montez Mathis, hampered by foul trouble, chipped in 11 points in just 22 minutes of action.  Mathis keyed a critical St. John’s run in the second half, scoring six of his points on a 10-3 spurt that turned a five-point deficit into a two-point advantage.

St. John’s, which remained a perfect 9-0 at Carnesecca Arena this season, increased its scoring average to 83.2 points per game, good enough for 13th nationally through games played on Wednesday.  The Johnnies also rank fourth nationally in assists with 19.3 per contest. 

Providence (13-2, 3-1 BIG EAST) is coming off its first loss in more than a month, an 88-56 defeat at the hands of Marquette on Tuesday night in Milwaukee.  Playing without the services of senior sharpshooter A.J. Reeves, the Friars shot just 32.8 percent from the floor and saw just one starter, Al Durham (16), finish in double figures.

On the season, 6-foot-10 graduate student Nate Watson leads the Friars with 13.5 points per game.  Durham, a grad transfer from Indiana, adds 13.3 points and a team-best 3.1 assists per contest.  Reeves (10.7 ppg) is the third and final Friar averaging double figures on the season.

Picked to finish seventh in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches Poll, the Friars have been one of the year’s biggest surprises, racking up a 4-1 record in Quad 1 opportunities with wins over the likes of Wisconsin, Texas Tech, Connecticut and Seton Hall.

St. John’s and Providence will meet for the 119th time in the history of the two programs on Saturday.  The Johnnies hold a 64-54 all-time edge in the series, which dates back to 1927.  After dropping six straight to the Friars from 2017-20, the Red Storm has won three straight against Providence, all by 11 or more points. 

Providence is the second most frequently played opponent in St. John’s history behind only Villanova (124). 

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