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St. John’s hosts #8 Kansas: Preview, how to watch, odds

The Johnnies have their toughest test in the Jayhawks

NCAA Basketball: New Jersey Tech at St. John Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

How to Watch St. John’s vs. Kansas

Time and Date: Friday, December 3, 2021, at 7:00 PM ET

Where: UBS Arena, Elmont, NY

TV: Fox Sports 1

Stream: Fox Sports Go

Records: Kansas (5-1) || St. John’s (5-1)

Rankings: Kansas (#8 AP Poll, #5 KenPom) || St. John’s (#55 KenPom)

Betting Odds

(via DraftKings Sportsbook)

Spread: Kansas -7 | St. John’s +7
Total: 158
Moneyline: Kansas -310 | St. John’s +245


Preview

On Friday the brand new UBS Arena plays host to its first-ever basketball game as the St. John’s Red Storm plays host to the 8th ranked Kansas Jayhawks as part of this season’s Big East-Big XII Battle.

This game comes at the mid-point of non-conference play for the Red Storm. It is the only game in non-conference play that St. John’s will play this season against a ranked opponent and more or less except for Indiana will be the toughest test for the Johnnies before their Big East opener against Seton Hall on the 20th of December.

But what will Kansas have in store for the Johnnies?

Well, the Jayhawks are currently sitting on a 5-1 record and are coming off a 1-1 split from the previous weekend where they were upset by Dayton and then rolled past Iona. They are a team that relies heavily on their seniors for production as Ochai Agbaji, Remy Martin, David McCormack, and Mitch Lightfoot make up a combined 57 percent of the team’s scoring this season and 67 percent of all of Kansas’ points over their last five games.

Among those seniors and perhaps the focal point for which everything runs through this Kansas team is Ochai Agbaji. So far this season Agbaji is averaging 22.5 points per game 3.5 rebounds per game and 1.7 assists per game. He has been shooting the ball from three-point range at a 41.7 percent rate and has sunk 12 of 30 shots over his last five games for the Jayhawks. He is not the only significant scoring option as Christian Braun and Remy Martin have been solid scoring options with Braun averaging 13.8 points per game and Martin a solid 12.0 points per game. It is also worth mentioning that both Braun and Martin have been the leading rebounders as well with Braun averaging 7.2 rebounds per game and Martin a solid 5.3 rebounds per game.

On a whole, the Jayhawks are an excellent team worthy of their ranking. They are also an incredibly diligent team on offense in terms of possession. At the moment they currently have only turned over the ball on offense 14.4 percent of the time which will be interesting when coming up against a Red Storm team that loves to force turnovers and the ball in awkward spots. It is also interesting considering on the reverse side of things St. John’s has been a turnover-prone team on offense but that tends to have been the result of how St. John’s sets their offense up and their tendency to play at an up-tempo pace.

Speaking of St. John’s, they are currently sitting 5-1 on the season as well though there have been quite a few hiccups along the way. Since their loss to Indiana, the Johnnies have rolled off three straight wins against Fairleigh Dickinson, St. Francis NY, and NJIT. Despite rolling off three wins the last two games have not been the smoothest of games as the Terriers of St. Francis and the Highlanders of NJIT both gave Red Storm a bit of a scare. The Terriers came within just six points over upsetting the Red Storm for the first time since 2004 and St. John’s had to go to overtime to pull out the victory over NJIT. It still seems in some regard that St. John’s is ironing out some kinks in their play all the while getting some stellar play from their big-name players. Julian Champagnie has been as good as gold so far this season leading the way in scoring averaging 21.3 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game, both team-leading marks, and has taken over the scoring in their most recent stretch.

Though one scorer will not take down Kansas, it will essentially have to be the style of play that St. John’s displayed in their second half against Indiana last month. Avoid digging a hole early on and playing on the front foot both offensively and defensively to cause disruptions in Kansas’ play style and pace of play. More disruption will benefit St. John’s and help prevent a fireman-style action of needing to scramble to get back in the game, essentially the first half against Indiana.

In all, it should be an interesting game for St. John’s as this game comes right in the middle of their non-conference slate of games and is an excellent test to see where Mike Anderson’s squad stacks up against the best in college basketball this season. If St. John’s can hang on and hang tough this game then they will be good to go for the tough tests to come later this season.