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Red Storm Men’s Basketball Rolls into Chicago for Sunday Contest with DePaul

St. John’s University Men’s Basketball Team Huddle. Photo by: Stacy Podelski/1495Sports

 The St. John’s Men’s Basketball team will look to win its fourth straight on the road when it travels to Chicago for a Sunday tilt against DePaul.

Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET on FS1 with Lisa Byington and Stephen Bardo on the call from Wintrust Arena.  Fans can also listen to the LEARFIELD Red Storm Sports Network broadcast with John Minko and Brian Mahoney on the Varsity Network appTuneIn Radio, XM Radio channel 383 and channel 973 in the SXM app, RedStormSports.com and the St. John’s Red Storm mobile app.   

St. John’s (15-12, 7-9 BIG EAST) will look to rebound from a three-point setback to Creighton on Wednesday at Carnesecca Arena. 

While the road presents a daunting task for most college basketball teams, especially in conference play, the Johnnies have been sensational away from home over the past month.  Beginning with a Jan. 24 drubbing of Seton Hall at Walsh Gymnasium, the Johnnies are 4-1 in their last five road tilts, with three of those wins coming by 13 or more points and their only loss coming against then-No. 14 Villanova at the Finneran Pavilion. 

The Red Storm is 3-0 in its last three road games, defeating Georgetown, Butler and Xavier by an average margin of 9.7 points per contest.  Julian Champagnie led the Red Storm in those last three victories, averaging 25.0 points per game.  Aaron Wheeler added 12.3 points on 59.1 percent shooting while Joel Soriano, who missed Wednesday’s loss with a left-knee contusion, averaged 11.3 points on a sensational 16-of-18 shooting from the field.  Posh Alexander chipped in 10.0 points, 5.0 assists and 3.3 steals per outing during that three-game stretch.

The Red Storm is looking to notch a fifth road win for the first time since 2014-15.  St. John’s has not won more than five games away from home since 2002-03, when the Red Storm claimed six road victories en route to the program’s sixth NIT title.  St. John’s has not won four straight BIG EAST road games since 1998-99, a year that saw the Red Storm reach the Elite Eight. 

In their last outing on Wednesday, the Red Storm had a chance to win despite atypical production for two of its leading offensive players, as Champagnie and Wheeler combined for just 11 points on 4-of-26 shooting.  The Red Storm’s bench stepped up to keep the Johnnies in the game, as Stef Smith tallied 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting and freshman O’Mar Stanley matched a season-high 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting in just 12 minutes of action.  Montez Mathis scored a team-high 15 points while Alexander chipped in 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting.

St. John’s enters the weekend tied for seventh in the BIG EAST standings with Xavier, one game behind Seton Hall in sixth and two games behind Marquette in fifth.  Only the top five teams in the final regular season standings will receive a bye to the BIG EAST Tournament Quarterfinals.  After taking on DePaul, St. John’s will host Xavier on Wednesday, March 2, before closing out the regular season against the Golden Eagles in Milwaukee three days later. 

The Blue Demons (13-14, 4-13 BIG EAST) snapped a four-game slide on Thursday by taking down Georgetown, 68-65, in Washington.  Javon Freeman-Liberty scored a game-high 25 points and pulled down seven rebounds against the Hoyas.  On the season, Freeman-Liberty averages 20.8 points per game, but does not currently meet the games-played minimum (75.0%) to be included in BIG EAST and national statistical rankings.  He will hit the threshold if he takes the floor on Sunday, again making him the leading scorer in the BIG EAST over Champagnie.

Two other Blue Demons average double figures on the season, as David Jones is pouring in 14.2 points per game and Brandon Johnson is adding 10.3.  All of DePaul’s top three scorers also average in excess of 7.0 rebounds per outing.

DePaul went 9-1 in its non-conference schedule, highlighted by wins over Rutgers and Louisville.  The Blue Demons’ lone non-league loss came at the hands of Loyola Chicago, 68-64, on Dec. 4.  The Ramblers are currently 21-6 and rank 27th in the NET. 

St. John’s and DePaul will meet for the 50th time in a series that dates back to 1932.  The Red Storm is 28-21 against the Blue Demons, including an 89-84 victory over DePaul earlier this season at Carnesecca Arena.  Champagnie posted a career-best performance in that win, tallying 34 points and 16 rebounds. Freeman-Liberty scored 24 points to lead four Blue Demons in double figures. 

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