How to Watch
Time and Date: February 1, 2022, at 9:00 PM ET
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY
Records: Providence (18-2, 8-1) || St. John’s (11-8, 3-5)
Rankings: Providence (#15 AP Poll, #48 KenPom) || St. John’s (N/A AP Poll, #84 KenPom)
This game tonight will be the return leg of the home and home regular season series between the Providence Friars and the St. John’s Red Storm. The last time out between these two programs saw an 83 to 73 Friars’ win at the Dunkin Donuts Center and more importantly Ed Cooley’s 300th win as Friars’ head coach. Now both are meeting up once more before the regular season is done at the Carnesecca Arena in Queens. At stake is a potential regular season sweep for Providence and their winning streak continuing, whereas for St. John’s is it hopefully a game that they can get back on track following their weekend loss to the Villanova Wildcats.
Fortunes between both teams have been differing since they last played. The Friars’ meteoric rise through the Big East has not relented as Ed Cooley’s team is currently on a five-game winning streak that oddly enough began back on January 8th with that win over the Johnnies. They are currently riding a 15th ranking in the AP Poll and look to be the cream of the crop in the Big East this season. Last time out for Providence saw a thrilling win in the dying seconds of the game over an upstart Marquette Golden Eagles team that going into this one had won seven straight up to that point.
Nate Watson led the way with 17 points against the Golden Eagles and he should be an important factor against St. John’s as for some reason whenever he sees the Red Storm hit the floor his play turns red hot. Last time out against the Johnnies he had a 22-point game which was among his best scoring games so far this season. It might be a case of a bad match up for the Red Storm, but Watson can find the space on the floor against them to get to the basket. The odd thing as well is that if he has a bad game there are a myriad of options at Providence’s disposal. For example, Jared Bynum exists and can provide a scoring touch either as a starter or off the bench. In their first game against the Red Storm, he had an 18-point game. Justin Minaya is coming off of a big game against Marquette where he had 14 points, and then there are the two stalwarts of Noah Horchler and Al Durham who provide their own brand of pop to the Friars’ roster. This is a roundabout way of saying that Providence has more than enough talent to ride out whatever defensive plan that the Johnnies will throw as them. However, there might be a catch.
As for the Johnnies, fortunes for Mike Anderson’s team have gone up and down over the last few weeks and in the process have retooled themselves once more. Last time out they lost to the Villanova Wildcats by a score of 73 to 62 as the Wildcats rained early three balls on the Johnnies to stretch their defensive pressure. Though the Johnnies had one of their worst days offensively with only Montez Mathis reaching double digits in the scoring column.
Still though despite the loss there is something formidable about this Red Storm team. They are in a lot of ways an awkward match up to come up against often providing for a rather uncomfortable game. When everything is clicking, they can throw their weight around against anyone on the floor. Consistency from game to game has been an issue this season, though, as the Johnnies have yet to win back-to-back games in conference play.
The biggest change that the Red Storm have undergone from the last time that they played Providence has been a small change in roster. That small change has been the increased minutes for Aaron Wheeler. The Purdue transfer has seen an increase in activity on the floor and in turn has paid off for Mike Anderson as his scoring touch has been a boost for the Red Storm providing a secondary scoring option to the play of Julian Champagnie. Recently and excluding the Villanova game which was again a poor game all around offensively for the Red Storm, Wheeler has been averaging around roughly 14 points per game in his most recent stretch of play which includes a stellar 17-point game against Seton Hall last week.
This addition has also helped take some pressure of Champagnie as well who has hit a dip in form in recent weeks. It might be also a case of teams finally figuring out how to stop him as he has often as time been the make-or-break guy in terms of scoring for St. John’s, though when everything is clicking the Johnnies options seem to be abound. Champagnie while still averaging around 18.9 points per game on the season has not hit double digits since the 19th of January.
In the meantime, Wheeler has emerged, as has the conjoined play of Posh Alexander and Dylan Addae-Wusu, who have found form in tandem guard play with both taking on the distribution role while also allowing for Alexander to show off his best asset in creating space to cut towards the basket. Last time against Providence as well Addae-Wusu had one of his best games a 20 pointer with 5 assists and 7 rebounds all the while Alexander had a 14 pointer against the Friars.
In all this should be an interesting game to see unfold with both teams offering a lot on the table between differing defensive styles to a myriad of offensive flavors at hand. The Friars are at the moment white hot and slightly underrated on the national landscape while the Johnnies on their day can be a tough task to handle. If last time out was anything to go by then this one should be an interesting one to watch from both the fans view and the neutral’s perspective. Whichever way this game unfolds there will be a lot to pick over the next day so sit back and enjoy this one.