clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

(#5) Duke vs. St. John's: 3-Point Preview

Taking a break from conference play, the Red Storm will get a huge test from one of the nation's best squads as Coach K chases a coaching milestone

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

In a true treat on the Big East basketball schedule, the St. John's Red Storm will get a quick break from conference play to take on the No. 5 Duke Blue Devils. Here's what to watch for:

1. Coach K chases a milestone

This is the absolute biggest storyline of the game, as a Duke win would make head coach Mike Krzyzewski the first men's Division I basketball coach to reach 1,000 wins. The Blue Devils hoped to reach the milestone on Jan. 13 against Miami (FL), but dropped two in a row to N.C. State and the Hurricanes to push the first opportunity to Sunday against St. John's. They're coming off very solid wins against No. 6 Louisville and Pittsburgh, so they'll look to keep the momentum in their favor before squaring off with No. 8 Notre Dame and No. 2 Virginia in their next two games, respectively. A win and huge honor for Coach K may be enough to give this team the boost they're looking for.

2. Can anyone on St. John's stop Jahlil Okafor?

It's going to be difficult, as Okafor is the most well-rounded center prospect we've seen since Ohio State-era Greg Oden (wow, does that feel as weird to read as it does to type?), but Chris Obekpa might just be the guy to contain the big fella. It's going to be fun to watch Okafor, who averages a ridiculous almost 19 points and nine rebounds per game, take on Obekpa, who averages 3.6 blocks per game and may just be the best rim protector in the Big East. I'm not sure how much success Obekpa will have against Okafor on the offensive end, but in terms of containing him defensively, he'll be a worthy adversary for the National Player of the Year candidate and probable No. 1 pick.

3. Who guards D'Angelo Harrison?

To put it lightly, Harrison isn't exactly the easiest guy to guard. Just ask the Butler Bulldogs, who were able to beat the Red Storm and still gave up 31 points to the senior guard. Coach K is going to have his hands full with Harrison, but luckily has a few different players he can throw out there to try and contain him as he attacks the rim and launches from deep. He can heat up as fast as a microwave, so it may be smart to throw the lengthier Justise Winslow on him just to get in his way and fight size and strength with more size and strength. It all starts with Harrison for the Red Storm, so this is going to be huge for the Blue Devils.

Enjoy the game!