The St. John’s Red Storm and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets kick off December with a meeting in Miami. Their high-noon tip-off is part of the fourth annual HoopHall Miami Invitational. This will be the tenth meeting between the Johnnies and Tech, with St. John’s holding the 5-4 series lead.
Time & Place: Dec. 1, 2018, Noon ET; AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami Florida
TV: ESPNU (Rich Hollenberg, Mark Adams)
Radio: WMCA 570 AM (St. John’s; John Minko, Vin Parise); WCNN 680 AM & 93.7 FM “The Fan” (Georgia Tech; Andy Demetra, Randy Waters)
Meet the Combatants
About the Red Storm
St. John’s is off to their best start since 2009-10, and are looking to go 7-0 for the first time since 1994-95. Shamorie Ponds continues to lead the way for the Red Storm, averaging 20.0 points, 5.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.7 steals per game.
The reigning Big East Player of the Week actually had a quiet night Tuesday against Maryland-Eastern Shore. Ponds logged just four points on 2-of-5 shooting, failing to convert any of his three 3-point attempts. Still, he dished out six assists in the winning effort.
Instead, transfers LJ Figueroa and Mustapha Heron carried the scoring load in the win over UMES. Figueroa led the way with 25 points and 13 rebounds, both game-highs. Heron added on 20 points and nine rebounds. Heron and Figueroa are the second- and third-leading scorers on the Red Storm. Needless to say, their addition has had a sizable, positive impact in the early-going this season.
About the Other Guys
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will play their lone neutral site game of the season on Saturday. However, they haven’t fared well away from Atlanta. Tech enters the game 4-2: All four of their wins have come under the roof of McCamish Pavilion, while both of their losses have come on the road (at Tennessee and Northwestern).
Their latest road loss was on Wednesday in Evanston. The midweek matchup was part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Yellow Jackets attempted to overcome a 28-point early 2nd half deficit, but came up short. Jose Alvarado paced the team with 24 points.
The Johnnies’ offense is a big reason for their early season success, as they’ve scored over 80 points in their last five games. That will be put to the test Saturday afternoon. Georgia Tech currently holds an 82.5 defensive rating, ninth-best in Division I according to College Basketball Reference. Josh Pastner’s bunch also holds teams to the ninth-lowest field goal percentage (36.0 percent) and 16th-fewest points per game (59.0) in the country.