Riding the program’s first 4-0 start in four seasons, the St. John’s Men’s Basketball team will leave the friendly confines of Carnesecca Arena for the first time on Monday when it heads to Barclays Center for the Red Storm’s opening game of the Empire Classic against Temple. Tip-off against the Owls is set for 9:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
The winner of Monday’s matchup between St. John’s and Temple, two of the 10-winningest programs in the history of college basketball, will face either Syracuse or Richmond in Tuesday’s championship tilt. The game is set for a 9:30 tip on ESPN2.
Audio broadcasts of the games at Barclays Center on the LEARFIELD Red Storm Sports Network with John Minko and Brandon Tierney will also be available on a variety of platforms including the Varsity Network App, TuneIn Radio, RedStormSports.com and the St. John’s Red Storm mobile app. The radio broadcast can also be heard on SiriusXM channel 384 and channel 974 on the SiriusXM App.
St. John’s (4-0) logged four straight wins to start the season at Carnesecca Arena, all of which came by 15 points or more. It marks just the third time in 80 years that the Red Storm won each of its first four decisions by at least that margin, joining the 1956-57 and 2017-18 squads, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The most recent win for the Johnnies came on Thursday night in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, as the Red Storm dispatched of Nebraska, 70-50, in Queens. Trailing by seven at the half, 27-20, the Red Storm doubled up the Cornhuskers in the second stanza, outscoring the Big Ten visitors by a 50-23 margin. The Johnnies shot 52.5 percent from the floor after intermission and connected on five of their 11 three-point attempts.
Senior center Joel Soriano stole the show against the Cornhuskers, posting a pair of career highs with 17 points and 18 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. His 18 boards were the most by a St. John’s player in a single game since Zendon Hamilton— currently the Red Storm’s coordinator of player development and a six-year NBA veteran—grabbed 18 against Rutgers on Jan. 29, 1997. Through games played on Saturday, Soriano leads the BIG EAST and ranks 12th in the nation with 11.0 rebounds per contest. His three double-doubles are tied for the national lead in that category.
David Jones, Soriano’s former teammate on the youth international circuit with the Domincan Republic, continued the stellar start to his St. John’s tenure. He netted 15 points and grabbed eight boards, marking the fourth time in as many opportunities that he scored 15 or more points as a Johnnie. Last season at DePaul, Jones finished ninth in the league in scoring (14.5 ppg) and 10th in rebounding (7.4 rpg). On the season, the Santo Domingo native is shooting 46.6 percent from the floor and 39.3 percent from three. In two years with the Blue Demons, Jones shot just 27.3 percent from distance.
Posh Alexander also finished in double figures against Nebraska, scoring 12 or more points for the third time in four chances this season. His backcourt mate, Andre Curbelo, scored seven points and recorded a pair of game-highs with seven assists and four steals in the win over the Cornhuskers.
The Red Storm will return to Barclays Center for the first time since picking wins over Cal and VCU to claim the Legends Classic title as part of a 12-0 start in 2018-19. St. John’s is 6-2 all-time inside the building, which is located just 11 miles from the Queens campus.
St. John’s is 5-3 in multi-team events (MTEs) during the Mike Anderson Era. One of those three losses came against BYU at Mohegan Sun in December of 2020 in a one-off game that was labeled as the Legends Classic.
Two programs that have combined for 3,872 wins all-time, St. John’s and Temple will meet for 54th time overall and the first since 2009. The Red Storm holds a 32-21 edge all-time in the series, which was contested on a nearly annual basis from 1940-80.
Temple (2-2) heads to Brooklyn following a neutral site win over Rutgers at Mohegan Sun on Friday evening in the Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase. The Owls led by as many as 17 early in the second half before holding on for a six-point victory.
The Owls went 1-2 during a three-game homestand to open the season, sandwiching their first win against Villanova in 10 years with overtime losses to Wagner and Vanderbilt.
Temple, which was picked to finish fifth in the American Athletic Conference Preseason Poll, is led by redshirt sophomore Damian Dunn. The Kinston, N.C., native is averaging 24.0 points per game this season despite scoring just seven against the Scarlet Knights. The 6-foot-5 guard netted 29 against Wagner, 22 against Villanova and a career-high 38 against Vanderbilt.
Three other Owls are averaging double figures on the season: Khalif Battle (15.8 ppg), Jamille Reynolds (13.3 ppg) and Zach Hicks (10.0 pgg).
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