St. John's (11-7) at Rutgers (12-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 23, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The RAC (8,000) -- Piscataway, New Jersey. Television: SNY, Big East Network, MASN2. Home Record: St. John's 8-3. Rutgers 8-2. Away Record: St. John's 3-2, Rutgers 3-3. Neutral Record: St. John's 0-2, Rutgers 1-0. Conference Record: St. John's 3-3, Rutgers 3-3. Series Record: St. John's leads, 25-12.
GAMES NOTES: The dangerous St. John's Red Storm will look to make it three wins in a row when it matches up with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at the RAC in Big East action on Wednesday night.
St. John's followed up its upset win over Notre Dame with a 71-62 victory on the road over DePaul. The Red Storm has been unable to really find its identity in the conference with some impressive wins including a victory on the road over Cincinnati but just a 3-3 overall in league play. The Red Storm have been competitive on the road with three wins in five trips this season. The Red Storm face off with Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden next.
Rutgers has also been marred by inconsistencies in league play. The Scarlet Knights were topped by Notre Dame, 69-66, on Saturday, evening their league mark at 3-3. Overall Rutgers is 12-5 with that including a strong 8-2 mark on its home floor. Rutgers will be on the road in its next contest with matchups against Connecticut and Cincinnati.
This is the second matchup of the season between these squads after Rutgers earned a 58-56 win at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 9. Even with the loss St. John's still has the lead in the all-time series with a 25-12 mark against the Scarlet Knights.
In the win over DePaul, St. Johns was in control for most of the game and led by as many as 17 points. The Red Storm shot an impressive 49.2 percent from the field in the contest but did miss on all four of its shots from beyond the arc. It didn't matter as St. John's continually barreled inside leading to a 44-28 edge on points in the paint.
Leading the charge for St. John's is D'Angelo Harrison (19.6 ppg) who is the second leading scorer in the Big East behind Bryce Cotton of Providence. The sophomore guard bounced back from back-to-back games of less than 10 points with a 15-point effort against DePaul. However Harrison has struggled with his shot of late hitting just 29.8 percent of his shots in the last four games. JaKarr Sampson (13.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg) is the only other player on the roster scoring in double figures. Chris Obekpa (4.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 4.8 bpg) makes up for his lack of scoring by blocking the most shots in the nation. Despite Harrison's efforts the Red Storm doesn't have a ton of offensive firepower leading to its 13th-ranked scoring average (68.1 ppg) among Big East squads. Thanks to Obekpa and the team's athleticism, the Red Storm have been able to tighten up on defense and hold teams below 40 percent shooting.
An Eli Carter layup with seven seconds remaining brought the Scarlet Knights to within a point of Notre Dame, but the Scarlet Knights late rally came up short. Points from the foul line played a major role in the contest as Rutgers was outscored from the charity stripe 15-6.
Carter (16.2 ppg) is certainly the player that Rutgers wants with the ball in his hands when it needs a bucket. The 6-foot-2 guard is the leading scorer on the roster and has shown plenty of explosive ability as he has put in at least 20 points in seven games this season, including the loss to Notre Dame. Myles Mack (12.9 ppg) teams with Carter in the backcourt as the only other player scoring in double figures. Mack has been a very efficient scorer hitting on 52.9 percent of his shots from the field. As a team Rutgers has been effective on offensive if not overly productive. The Scarlet Knights are shooting at the third best percentage from the field (.465) in comparison to the rest of the Big East. However Rutgers ranked just ninth in scoring (69.9 ppg). Defensively Rutgers is surrendering 66.9 points per game on 41.2 percent shooting.
These teams are clearly evenly matched as their first matchup proved. Although Rutgers has the upper hand in terms of homecourt advantage the Red Storm will have a chip on their shoulder in trying to make up for the earlier loss. That along with squad's track record point to a Red Storm victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: St. John's 65, Rutgers 62
01/23 10:43:13 ET