St. John’s Red Storm (2-0, 0-0) at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-0, 0-0)
Where: Rutgers Athletic Center, Piscataway, NJ
When: 7:00 pm ET
TV: Big Ten Network
Line: St. John’s -2.5
All-Time: This will be the 42nd time that both programs will be playing against each other. All time St. John’s holds a record of 27-14 against the Scarlet Knights. The last time both teams met was 2015 where the Red Storm won a close one by a score of 61 to 59.
Even further this match up use to be a Big East conference game with a fair bit of history between the two programs such as the 2011 Big East Tournament game that St. John’s won by a score of 65 to 63 with some intriguing events taking place on the court at Madison Square Garden, but all these things are in the past and now we turn our attention to the next chapter to be written in this match up.
That next chapter is Friday night on the court of the Rutgers Athletic Center where a the Scarlet Knights coming into this game with a record of 2-0 will play host to a 2-0 Red Storm team. It is a interesting match up insofar that both teams will be facing off against opposition from a major conference for the first time this season and could tell the direction either team will go this season.
St. John’s are coming into this game with a record of 2-0 on the season. So far in their early 2018-19 campaign they have beaten Loyola-Maryland by a score of 76 to 55 and flirted with disaster in a close 84-80 win over Bowling Green. In the early goings Shamorie Ponds and Mustapha Heron have looked good together as advertised and Justin Simon has been great at distributing the ball so far this season with 4.0 assists per game.
On the Rutgers side of the ball, the Scarlett Knights are also entering this game with two wins on the year. Both wins were blowouts against Fairleigh Dickinson and Drexel and in both games Rutgers scored 90 or more points and currently sit at a 92.5 points per game this season which most likely is going to go down as the season wears on.
Still the offense looks much improved this season compared to last season as Steve Pikiell continues to work with his core of players. The most significant improvement and something that St. John’s will have to be mindful of this game is play at the perimeter and Rutgers’ use of the three point shot. At the moment, they are shooting 26-46 for 56.5% from three point range. They have also shown great ball movement with 20.5 assists per game and also have blocked 20 shots so far this season.
They may not have enough to stop St. John’s offensive options in this game but what they cannot stop they will try to match through depth and versatile play.
Players on Rutgers to watch this game are Eugene Omoruyi who so far this season is averaging 19.0 points per game and Geo Baker who has been the main ball handler for the Knights in this young season. At the moment, Baker is averaging 6.5 assists per game though he might be prone to a turnover with a current rate of 2.5 turnovers per game as well this season. Still though keep an eye on him as he will be setting up how the Scarlett Knights play in this game.
In all Rutgers presents an interesting opposition for St. John’s heading into this game. Rutgers will be looking to this game to make noise and continue their hot start while the Johnnies will look to quell doubts lingering from their game against Bowling Green. At the end of the day this a tasty game to round out the Gavitt Tipoff Games for this season.