Fresh off back-to-back wins on the road, the St. John’s Men’s Basketball team will return to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night when it plays host to No. 15/15 Villanova.
Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. on FS1 with Tim Brando and Bill Raftery on the call. Fans can also tune in the to the LEARFIELD Red Storm Sports Network broadcast featuring John Minko and Brandon Tierney on The Varsity Network App, TuneIn Radio, XM Radio Channel 387 and channel 977 in the SXM app, RedStormSports.com and the St. John’s Red Storm mobile app.
Tuesday will mark the Red Storm’s annual First Responders Night, as the program will honor the contributions of everyday heroes who selflessly serve the citizens of the city and region.
The Red Storm (13-9, 5-6 BIG EAST) will look to climb back to .500 in BIG EAST play after taking down Georgetown and Butler on the road this past week. The win in D.C. marked just the second for St. John’s since 2003-04 and the victory in Indianapolis was the first for the Red Storm at Hinkle Fieldhouse since the debut year of the realigned BIG EAST in 2013-14, snapping a seven-game losing streak in the building.
The wins capped a grueling stretch of games that featured three tips in three different cities in the span of just 87 hours. The last time St. John’s won two BIG EAST road games in the span of just three days came back in 2010-11, when the Red Storm won at Cincinnati (Feb. 13) and Marquette (Feb. 15) before returning home to down No. 4 Pitt on a last second layup from Dwight Hardy on Feb. 19.
For his efforts during the Red Storm’s 2-1 week, Posh Alexander was named to his second consecutive BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll on Monday. Last Tuesday night against No. 15 Providence, Alexander posted career-highs of 29 points and 12 assists in the losing effort. Two days later, he stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, seven boards, six assists and four steals at Georgetown before digging deep for 12 points and five assists at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday. On the season, Alexander ranks ninth in the conference in scoring (14.9 ppg) and second in assists (5.2 apg), one of only two players in the league alongside UConn’s R.J. Cole to place among the top 10 in both categories. Nationally, Alexander is one of only two high-major underclassmen alongside TCU’s Mike Miles to rank among the top 10 of their respective leagues in both scoring and assists.
After failing to reach double figures in four straight games, Julian Champagnie snapped his skid in a big way at Georgetown, posting 27 points on 9-of-20 shooting, including a 6-of-12 effort from beyond the arc. Two days later at Butler, Champagnie reached the 20-point mark for the 10th time this season, netting 21 points thanks in large part to a season-best 9-for-10 showing from the charity stripe. On the season, Champagnie ranks second in the BIG EAST in both scoring and steals.
Two other Johnnies efficiently finished in double figures at Butler on Saturday as Aaron Wheeler (13 points) went 4-for-6 from the floor and 5-for-5 from the line and Joel Soriano (12 points) posted his second straight 6-for-6 shooting outing. Wheeler, who averaged just 4.5 points in 10 non-conference appearances, is now pouring in 12.4 points per contest against BIG EAST foes. The Purdue transfer is shooting 49.5 percent from the floor, including an 18-of-44 (40.9%) effort from three, during league play.
Villanova (17-6, 10-3 BIG EAST) comes to The Garden after handling then-No. 17 UConn, 85-74, on Saturday at Wells Fargo Center. The Wildcats prevailed despite playing without the services of Justin Moore, the team’s second-leading scorer who averages 15.1 points per contest. Collin Gillespie, the third leading scorer in the BIG EAST at 17.2 points per game, exited the game in the second half with an injury.
Redshirt sophomore forward Eric Dixon posted a career-high 24-point, 12-rebound double-double on Saturday against the Huskies. Senior Caleb Daniels added 16 for the Wildcats, who enter the game second in the BIG EAST standings behind Providence.
St. John’s and Villanova will meet for the 126th time in program history on Tuesday. The Red Storm holds a one-game edge, 63-62, in the series that dates back 1909. The Wildcats are the most frequently played opponent in the 115-year history of St. John’s Men’s Basketball.
After hosting the Wildcats, the Red Storm will welcome another ranked foe to Madison Square Garden when the No. 24/23 UConn Huskies come to Midtown on Sunday at 12 p.m. Tickets for the game are available at RedStormTix.com.
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