Game Preview: DePaul vs. St. John's

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Off the heels of a major comeback win at Butler, DePaul welcomes Steve Lavin and the Red Storm into Rosemont.

Playing their best 14 minute stretch of the season, DePaul inked out a double-overtime comeback victory on the road at Butler last Thursday. Armed with their first Big East win of the season, the Blue Demons will look to build on that W on Tuesday night when they face the Red Storm of St. John's.

DePaul (9-8) vs. St. John's (9-6)
Tuesday, Jan. 14th, 7 P.M. EST
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: WSCR 670 AM (DePaul), Bloomberg 1130 AM (St. John's)

Four Factors
DePaul St. John's
Scoring Offense 72.5 72.7
Scoring Defense 72.3 66.9
Effective Field Goal Pct. .489 .477
Steals per game 7.2 6.6

Weathering the Storm

DePaul needed a huge contribution from its stars to bring them back to beat Butler last week. It wasn't easy. The sloppiness that has plagued the Demons all season continued to rear its ugly head against the Bulldogs, who forced 18 turnovers. Carelessness with the basketball not only held DePaul back for as long as it did, but it also stopped the Blue Demons from winning the game in the first overtime period.

The big victory has overshadowed the continued hardships with ball control, something that they will have to correct immediately. St. John's rarely turns over the ball, averaging 10 giveaways a game, and although they steal the ball slightly less than DePaul, the Red Storm doesn't like to allow points on the board, with all of their victories (except for a shootout versus Youngstown State) coming when they hold their opponent under 64 points. If DePaul's inability to make good decisions with the ball leads to easy points to go on the board for St. John's, it can be hard for them to come back this time.

The Red Storm have allowed at least 70 points in five of their six losses this season, including each of their three Big East defeats. Shooting generally has been a struggle for the Blue Demons, but they seemed to right the ship against Butler, connecting on nearly 60 percent of their shots and showing their range, going 8-for-14 from downtown. Opponents only score 40% of their field goals on a good St. John's defense, but momentum is on the side of boys in blue. Good shooting from their core (Cleveland Melvin, Brandon Young and Billy Garrett Jr.), plus the emergence of center Tommy Hamilton as an outside threat, could be what DePaul needs to start their first conference win streak in seven years.

Tidal Wave

After starting off the season 9-3. St. John's has stumbled out the gates, kicking off Big East play with an 0-3 record. They've handled their business against lower-level opponents, attributing to their average numbers, but the Red Storm have failed to beat a quality program on their schedule.

Now Thursday's win doesn't place DePaul into the realm of "quality teams", but they are far better than any of St. John's casualties this season.

St. John's has a pretty decent defense, but their lack of shooters have hurt them. Guard D`Angelo Harrison is back at the St. John's leading scorer at 18.7 points a game, but he loves to jack up shots and can be contained. Forward JaKarr Sampson will be an interesting player to watch, matched up with Cleveland Melvin. Sampson is one of the Red Storm's better shooters, averaging 11.9 a game, but will be able to score on the DePaul star senior? The Blue Demons won't worry about the inconsistent Rysheed Jordan, so as long as the bigs contain Orlando Sanchez, DePaul, given they sure up the problems on their end, should breeze through the Red Storm.

Predictions

For as bad DePaul is thought to be, St. John's is probably worse. They have not played up to the level of a Steve Lavin program lately. Their struggles are worse than the Blue Demons, and DePaul's has to have some moxie after that Butler W. If they can limit the turnovers and get substantial help from Melvin, Garrett Jr. and Young, DePaul should send St. John's to 0-4 with no problem.

DePaul 60, St. John's 53

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