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Red Storm Men’s Basketball Rolls into Omaha for Wednesday Showdown with Creighton

 After taking down Georgetown on Sunday at Madison Square Garden and moving back to .500 in BIG EAST play, the St. John’s Men’s Basketball team will begin a crucial stretch of conference games on Wednesday against Creighton in Omaha.

Tip-off from CHI Health Center Omaha is set for 7 p.m. ET on FS1 with Brandon Gaudin and Nick Bahe on the call.  Fans can catch the LEARFIELD Red Storm Sports Network audio broadcast with John Minko and former Red Storm Head Coach Brian Mahoney on a variety of platforms including the Varsity Network AppTuneIn, XM Radio channel 390 and channel 980 in the SXM app, RedStormSports.com and the St. John’s Red Storm mobile app.

Wednesday’s game against Creighton (10-5, 2-2 BIG EAST) will mark the first of four consecutive Quad One opportunities for St. John’s (10-5, 2-2 BIG EAST) to close the month of January.  That number will be extended to five if Providence (33) should move into the top 30 of the NET rankings before its trip to St. John’s on Feb. 1.  Entering the week, St. John’s is 0-4 in Quad One chances this season with three of those four opportunities coming on the road. 

St. John’s will look to win a game outside of New York City for the first time this season when it heads to the Cornhusker State. The Johnnies are averaging 88.0 points per game and shooting 50.9 percent from the floor in their 10 wins this season, nine of which have come at Carnesecca Arena.  In three true road games at Indiana, Providence and Connecticut, the Red Storm is averaging just 75.0 points per game on 39.2 percent shooting.  St. John’s, which leads the league and ranks 11th nationally with 82.5 points per game, is undefeated this season when tallying 80 or more points. 

For the second straight week and the sixth time overall this season, Julian Champagnie was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll on Monday.  The leading scorer in the BIG EAST and the eighth-highest scorer in the nation at 21.4 points per game this season, Champagnie averaged 26.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in a 1-1 week for the Johnnies.  In Wednesday’s overtime loss at Connecticut, Champagnie scored a game-high 27 points and sank four 3-pointers, including a go-ahead triple with four seconds remaining in regulation.  A few days later against the Hoyas at “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Champagnie once again led all scorers with 25 points to go along with six rebounds and three steals.  The Brooklyn native did not hit a 3-pointer against Georgetown, but went 7-for-9 from the charity stripe.

In addition to Champagnie’s efforts, the sophomore backcourt duo of Posh Alexander and Dylan Addae-Wusu proved nothing short of sensational against the Hoyas.  Alexander, the reigning BIG EAST Freshman and Defensive Player of the year, went 4-for-4 from the field and 9-for-10 from the line to finish with 17 points.  The Brooklyn native stuffed the stat sheet in other ways, tallying seven assists, six rebounds and a career-high six steals.  Averaging 2.6 steals per game, Alexander leads the BIG EAST and ranks sixth nationally in that category.  Alexander also ranks among the league leaders this season in scoring (15.5- 8th), assists (5.1- 2nd), field goal percentage (50.6- 3rd) and, despite standing at just 6-foot, offensive rebounds (3.1- 2nd).

Addae-Wusu also found it hard to miss, going 6-of-8 from the floor, including a 4-for-5 showing from deep, to register 17 points.  The Bronx product also dished out seven assists and pulled down four boards.  Before the team’s BIG EAST opener against DePaul, Addae-Wusu had never scored more than 16 points in 39 collegiate appearances. In the four games since, he has hit that mark three times, including a 20-point effort on the road at Providence.

Montez Mathis scored 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting against the Hoyas while Aaron Wheeler registered 10 points to finish in double figures for the third straight game.  St. John’s has yet to lose a game in which Mathis logs 10 or more points this season (8-0).

Creighton returns to Omaha following three straight games on the road.  The Bluejays outlasted Marquette in overtime on New Year’s Day before coming up short against a pair of ranked foes in Villanova and Xavier.  A scheduled home game against Providence on Jan. 11 was called off at the last minute due to COVID issues with the Friars. 

The Bluejays are 5-2 this season in Omaha, falling to then-No. 19 Iowa State and Arizona State during non-conference play.  Their lone home win during BIG EAST play was a 20-point drubbing of then-No. 9 Villanova on Dec. 17.

Creighton has trotted out the same starting lineup in all 15 of its games with four of those five averaging double figures.  Ryan Hawkins, who won two national championships at Division II Northwest Missouri State, leads the team with 13.4 points per game followed by Duke transfer Alex O’Connell at 12.5 points per outing.  Freshman point guard Ryan Nembhard also averages 12.5 points to go along with a team-leading 4.5 assists per outing.  7-foot-1 sophomore Ryan Kalkbrenner adds 12.0 points and a team-best 2.9 shots per game, the latter of which ranks third in the league. 

St. John’s is 10-13 all-time against Creighton, including a 1-9 record in road contests.  The Red Storm’s lone win in Omaha against the Bluejays came on Jan. 30, 2019, a game in which Shamorie Ponds nearly registered a triple-double with 26 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and six steals. 

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