DePaul vs St. John’s
When: 9:30 PM ET, Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
NEW YORK – A three-game losing streak to end the regular season has put St. John’s in a serious situation entering the Big East Tournament, which it begins as a No. 7 seed with a first-round matchup against 10th-seeded DePaul on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Red Storm seemed to have an NCAA Tournament locked up before the slide, which included two losses to Xavier sandwiching their second setback to the Blue Demons, and another defeat could put them on the outside looking in.
“We’ve got to get back to the team we were,” coach Chris Mullin told reporters after the 81-68 loss to the Musketeers on Saturday. “Just being active, playing fundamental, good defense on the ball, forcing turnovers. I think on offense we can be much sharper.” St. John’s will be playing a first-round game for the fourth straight season, having won its last two tourney openers before exiting with losses in the quarterfinals.
The Blue Demons have endured a painful history in the annual event, posting a 2-11 record, including first-round exits in each of the last four years. However, they finished with their most Big East wins (seven) in 12 years and had won two in a row prior to a 91-78 loss at Creighton to finish the regular season.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
ABOUT DEPAUL (15-14): Guard Max Strus, an All-Big East second team selection, leads the way for the Blue Demons with a team-high 19 points per game to go along with 6.1 rebounds, and he erupted for a career-high 43 points in the 92-83 win over the Red Storm earlier this month. Fellow seniors Femi Olujobi (13.3 points) and Eli Cain (12.9) are the next two on the team’s scoring list, while sophomore forward Paul Reed averages 11.2 points and a Big East-leading 8.2 rebounds. Olujobi recorded 23 points and 10 rebounds against St. John’s on March 3 and had a season-high 27 points in a 79-71 victory at the Red Storm on Jan. 12.
ABOUT ST. JOHN’S (20-11): Junior guard Shamorie Ponds ranked third in the Big East in scoring (19.8), second in assists (5.2) and first in steals (2.6) during the regular season en route to a first team selection. He is one of five players on the team who average at least 10 points per game, with sophomore guard LJ Figueroa (14.6) also pacing the squad on the boards (6.3). Junior guard Justin Simon (10.0 points) was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year and also scored a season-high 20 points against DePaul earlier in the season.
1. The teams have never met in the Big East tournament.
2. Blue Demons sophomore G Devin Gage had 17 assists against three turnovers over the final two games of the regular season.
3. Ponds scored 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting to lead the Red Storm to a win over Georgetown in the first round of the 2018 tournament.