How to watch, listen, or stream
Time: 8:30 p.m ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: 107.5 FM (Butler), 570 WMCA (St. Johns)
Stream: Fox Sports Go
Butler is favored by 10.5 points per OddsShark.com.
Back in early January, St. John’s stunned then red-hot Butler for a 76-73 win in Queens. Freshman Shamorie Ponds was the game’s leading scorer with 24 points on 60 percent shooting from the field while junior Bashir Ahmed added 19 points of his own.
Butler struggled from outside, only shooting 24 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Freshman sensation Kamar Baldwin only took four shots that and junior Kelan Martin connected on six of his 16 attempts.
Players to Watch
Entering the year with massive expectations, Martin has recently struggled to play up to par. In conference play this year, Martin is only shooting 35.5% from the field (per Sports-Reference.com). It’s a far cry compared to last year when he scored 17.6 per game in Big East play. While perhaps he was able to attack knowing Roosevelt Jones and Kellen Dunham were the main sources of focus from the defense, Martin has simply been off his game.
His jump shot is not falling, he cannot consistently draw fouls and he simply has not yet rediscovered that offensive touch. In his last three games, the junior from Louisville has amassed a total of 20 points. While he has been promising in a few games since the new year (20 points against Georgetown and Marquette), he has not been able to consistently score; something he was able to do much of last year.
With Butler hitting a rough patch of their season (losing three of their last four), head coach Chris Holtmann will need the junior to step up down the stretch of the season if Butler wants to expand upon their Round of 32 birth last year. As their most talented scorer, the Bulldogs will go as far as Martin will take them.
In this specific game, watch for the junior to be more aggressive, trying to receive foul calls or create easier scoring opportunities. A large scoring output may just jumpstart the final stretch of Butler’s season.
Along with Marcus LoVett, Ponds, the electric freshman from Brooklyn, has been a major spark plug in the Johnnies’ resurgence after struggling early on in the season. His dynamic ability to score from the inside and out has him in the running for Big East Freshman of the Year. Averaging 17.2 points per game, he has shot above 50 percent from inside the 3-point arc, somewhat impressive for a 6-1 guard.
In his past five games, Ponds is averaging 19 points and a little under three steals. While his 3-point shooting has dipped, his pace-pushing quickness and scoring ability has been key to St. John’s resurgence.
Facing one of the more defensively talented guards in Kamar Baldwin, Ponds will have one of his toughest tests of the season. While it will not be completely on him, he needs to play at the same level he has recently if St. John’s wants a chance at sweeping the Bulldogs.