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Red Storm Men’s Basketball to Wrap Road Swing on Saturday at Butler

Just 42 hours after last taking the court in Washington, the St. John’s Men’s Basketball team will return to action on Saturday afternoon in Indianapolis, facing off against Butler inside historic Hinkle Fieldhouse. 

The Johnnies and the Bulldogs will tip at 12 p.m. on FS1 with Matt Schumacker and Brian Butch on the call.  Fans can also catch the LEARFIELD Red Storm Sports Network broadcast with John Minko and Vin Parise on the Varsity Network appTuneIn Radio, XM Radio channel 385 and channel 975 in the SXM app, RedStormSports.com and the St. John’s Red Storm mobile app.

St. John’s (12-9, 4-6 BIG EAST) and Butler (11-11, 4-7 BIG EAST) enter the contest separated by just a half-game in the conference standings. 

The Red Storm will wrap an unprecedented stretch of games when it takes the floor at Hinkle Fieldhouse.  Saturday will mark the just the second time in program history that St. John’s has played three BIG EAST games in the span of five days.  During the 1988-89 season, the Johnnies battled Connecticut in Hartford on Jan. 28 before hosting Pittsburgh (Jan. 30) and Providence (Feb. 1) at MSG.  This year’s stretch will be made a little tougher by the fact that Tuesday’s game against Providence tipped at 9 p.m. and Saturday’s will start at just noon, meaning that the Red Storm will start three games, including two road tilts nearly 600 miles apart, in the span of just 87 hours.

On Thursday night in Washington, the Red Storm picked up its second road win three tries, defeating Georgetown, 90-77, inside McDonough Arena.  The Johnnies secured a two-game regular season sweep of the Hoyas for the first time since 1998-99, never trailing in 80 minutes of action against their longtime BIG EAST rival. 

Julian Champagnie broke out of a shooting slump against the Hoyas, pouring in 27 points thanks in large part to 6-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc.  The junior had failed to reach double figures in four straight games before Thursday and had made just four of his last 27 from deep entering the contest.  On the season, Champagnie ranks second in the BIG EAST in scoring at 18.8 points per game, having eclipsed the 20-point mark nine times in 20 chances with a pair of 30-point outings. 

Champagnie led five Johnnies in double figures for the fifth time this season against the Hoyas.

Joel Soriano made all six of his field goal attempts, finishing one rebound shy of a double-double with 14 points, nine boards and a career-high four blocks. 

Aaron Wheeler logged 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, reaching double figures for the eighth time in his last nine games.  In BIG EAST play, Wheeler is averaging 12.3 points per outing after posting just 4.5 per contest against non-league foes. 

Dylan Addae-Wusu recorded 11 points and three assists while his former high school teammate, Posh Alexander, stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, seven boards six assists and four steals.  Alexander, who posted career-highs of 29 points and 12 assists on Tuesday night against Providence, leads all high-major players around the nation with 2.5 steals per contest and is one of only two players in the BIG EAST alongside UConn’s R.J. Cole to rank in the top 10 of the league in both scoring (15.1 ppg- 8th) and assists (5.2 apg- 2nd). 

Butler returns home to the friendly confines of Hinkle Fieldhouse following a two-point defeat at the hands of No. 21 Xavier on Wednesday in Cincinnati.  The Bulldogs have won each of their last two games in Indianapolis, beating Georgetown by three after downing Creighton by 17 three days prior.  In its three BIG EAST wins at Hinkle this season, Butler allowing opponents to average just 55.7 points.

The Bulldogs are led offensively by sophomore guard Chuck Harris, the team’s only double figure scorer at 11.0 points per game.  Senior forward Bryce Golden and freshman guard Jayden Taylor are chipping 9.0 points per outing.

Saturday’s contest will be a clash of styles.  St. John’s enters the game ranked fourth in the nation in adjusted tempo according to KenPom.  Butler, on the other hand, ranks 333rd.  The Bulldogs’ average possession length of 19.3 seconds ranks 335th in Division I.  The Johnnies (14.6 seconds) trail only Gonzaga in that category.

St. John’s will look to snap a lengthy losing streak inside Hinkle Fieldhouse, having dropped seven straight on the road against the Bulldogs dating back to 2014-15.  Seven of those defeats were by 20 or more points.  The Red Storm has won only once inside the college basketball cathedral, a 69-52 win in the first year of the newly realigned BIG EAST.

The Red Storm is 7-10 all-time against Butler with all but one of those games coming as conference foes.  Before 2013, the only meeting between the teams came in the opening round of the 1958 NIT, a 76-68 win for the Johnnies at Madison Square Garden.

After taking on the Bulldogs, the Johnnies will return home for a pair of contests at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” against Villanova (Feb. 8) and UConn (Feb. 13).  To purchase tickets, visit RedStormTix.com.

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