Where: Carnesecca Arena, Jamaica, NY
When: 8:30 p.m. ET
Watch On: CBS Sports Network
Line: Xavier -6
Last Meeting: Xavier won 88-82 at Cintas Center
The Johnnies have yet to win a conference game, but don’t let that fool you. Several of those losses were tightly contested games in which St. John’s was within striking distance of picking up a Big East victory. Xavier got a taste of that very instance when the Red Storm came to Cintas. That game ended in an 88-82 victory for the Musketeers as Chris Mack became the all-time winningest coach in Xavier history.
The Red Storm lost a key part of their offense with the injury of Marcus LoVett, which was later deemed severe enough to be season-ending. To date, he has only appeared in seven games this season.
In lieu of LoVett, St. John’s has gotten production from Justin Simon, who is averaging 11.6 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game and 4.9 assists per game. He shined against the Musketeers in their last head-to-head matchup, recording a career-high 28 points. The Johnnies at least have one half of their dynamic scoring duo in Shamorie Ponds but recently, he hasn’t had the best of stat lines. While he averages 19.1 PPG, Ponds scored just seven points against Creighton last Tuesday and two points in a blowout loss to Butler this past Saturday.
Not to mention, the Red Storm are entering a doomsday trifecta of games starting with Xavier on Tuesday. After the Johnnies host the No. 6 Musketeers, they then host No. 4 and perennial powerhouse Duke. The three-game stretch concludes with a trip to Philadelphia to play No. 1 Villanova.
The Musketeers, on the other hand, are riding a four-game winning streak. Trevon Bluiett has solidified himself into Xavier greatness reaching the 2,000-point mark in the team’s latest victory over Marquette. Most astoundingly, he has scored in double-digit points in every game this season.
Xavier has had one of its longest breaks in the schedule this season without a game, not having faced off against an actual opponent since last Wednesday. While that is not ideal, the Musketeers captured two very important victories in their last two games and are also playing the league’s worst team based on wins and losses in conference play.
The Musketeers have been quite a dominant team this season minus the three losses of the season, two of which are still in the AP Top 25 poll. Chris Mack’s squad has gotten production from pretty much every rotation player. The Musketeers have benefitted from having added depth with guys like Naji Marshall and Kerem Kanter, who both originally came off the bench but have been in the starting lineup the last couple of games.
Xavier has weapons from nearly every part of the court. That’s part of the reason they are such a potent offensive team. At times there have been bumps in the road but they have gotten the job done perhaps with the exception of the loss at Providence.
St. John’s shouldn’t be counted out. It’s been a rough year for them in terms of getting wins but without a doubt, this team would look a lot different with a healthy LoVett who contributed nearly 16 points a game for the Red Storm last season.
Then again, when you talk about a conference like the Big East no team should be counted out. That’s the way it is. This year, there have been the close games, the blowout losses and other puzzling showings in between.
While the Johnnies are defeated in Big East action, at times, they simply couldn’t buy themselves a win. Thus, the Musketeers still need to play a good game in order to come away with a victory in the Big Apple.