Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center – Providence, RI
When: 7:00 PM
- This will mark the 104th meeting all-time between Providence and St. John’s. The series is led by the Red Storm, 58-45, with 40 of those meetings coming prior to the formation of the Big East in 1979-80. The series favors the Friars, 24-21, when played in Providence. Providence has won 15 of the last 20 times the team has played which goes back to 2001. Providence and Georgetown split the regular season series last season with each team winning on the opponent’s home court. Providence won the rubber match in the Big East Tournament Quarterfinals, 79-74, to take the overall season series.
- St. John’s comes to Providence following an 8 day layoff between games. Their last game was on January 6th against Villanova at Madison Square Garden with the Wildcats coming out on top, 90-72. The Red Storm have started conference play 0-3 for the second straight season. The Red Storm are led in scoring by senior guard D’Angelo Harrison, who averages 20.6 points/game. Harrison is 2nd in the Big East in scoring behind LaDontae Henton. Leading on the glass is junior center Chris Obekpa, who averages 8.1 rebounds/game. Obekpa leads the Big East in blocks/game at 3.87. Carson Desrosiers is 2nd in that category at 2.94 blocks/game.
- Providence followed up their impressive come from behind win at Butler on January 6th by beating Georgetown at home on January 10th in a game that required overtime and plenty of ice packs. The Friars enter Wednesday’s game at 3-1 in league play so far which puts them in a 4-way tie for first place in the league with Villanova, Seton Hall and DePaul.
- LaDontae Henton is in 10th place on the all-time points scored list at Providence College with 1,750 career points. Henton now trails Friar legend Ernie DiGregorio by 10 points entering this game for 9th place on the all-time list.
- The line opened with Providence as a 2.5 point favorite. The total opened at 130.5.
Note: Stats include games through January 13th vs D-1 teams only
Providence and St. John’s are two teams heading in different directions since conference play began. The Friars have started 3-1, including a road win at Butler. The Red Storm have started 0-3, including 2 losses at home against Butler and then Villanova. The comparison has been drawn leading up to this game between the 2013-14 Friars team that used a core of 6 experienced players to win the Big East Tournament and this 2014-15 St. John’s team that has 6 players averaging 25+ minutes/game. The St. John’s version of Bryce Cotton on this team is D’Angelo Harrison who is playing 35.1 minutes/game, scoring 20.6 points/game and carrying the team on his back as best as he can.
The biggest differences between the two teams being compared are size and leadership. St. John’s has an Effective Height of -0.9, per Kenpom.com. They use 6’6 Sir’Dominic Pointer at power forward and even center when Chris Obekpa gets into foul trouble. On the leadership from Steve Lavin is not Ed Cooley. There have been rumblings about Rysheed Jordan’s leave of absence and how Lavin is allowing his talented sophomore guard to miss practices and even games when he feels like it with little to no repercussion. Another 0-5 start to conference play could be a death knell for this St. John’s team as the locker room appears to be showing signs of toxicity.
As for the matchup on the floor Wednesday night at the Dunk the keys to victory for Providence are familiar. The Friars need to limit turnovers, control the pace of the game, force St. John’s to shoot from the outside and play half court offense. The Red Storm are at their best when they force steals and get out in transition. Ed Cooley’s bunch took care of the ball very well on Saturday against Georgetown and only coughed up 8 turnovers in 45 minutes of action. They will need another performance like that against a Red Storm team that scores 32% of their points in transition, per Hoop-Math.com.
An x-factor in this game could be Tyler Harris. If Harris can get some touches around the block and get to the foul line it would be a good sign for Providence in this game. I think St. John’s continues their struggle and Ed Cooley has the Friars ready to play to avenge last season’s home loss to the Johnnies that saw Providence come out flat and get outplayed from the opening tip.
Prediction: Providence 70 St. John’s 63
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