Game Notes & Preview: Providence (19-11, 9-8) at St. John’s (13-17, 7-10) 3/4/17

Where: Madison Square Garden – New York, NY

When: 12:00pm EST

How: FS2 (Alex Faust & Tarik Turner)/Fox Sports GO (Where Available)/WEEI 103.7 FM and (John Rooke and Joe Hassett)/FriarTV

Game Notes

  • Providence and St. John’s will meet for the 110th time ever on Saturday. The Red Storm lead the all-time series, 61-48. The Friars are 17-32 against St. John’s in NYC. St. John’s defeated Providence earlier this season, 91-86, in Providence on January 25th.
  • Providence is 3-7 this season on the road against a 15-3 record at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Providence is 6-2 at home and 3-5 on the road in Big East play. The Friars are also 1-1 on neutral courts.
  • There are a number of scenarios in play on Saturday for Big East Tournament seeds with all 10 Big East teams in action. Find out more about that here.
  • St. John’s  is 13-17 this season, including a 7-10 Big East record. The Red Storm is 0-1 this week with a loss at Creighton on Tuesday. St. John’s was picked to finish 8th in the preseason Big East Coaches’ Poll. The Red Storm are led by Chris Mullin, who is in his 2nd season at the helm of the St. John’s program. Freshman Shamorie Ponds leads the Red Storm in scoring at 17.3 points/game, which ranks him fifth in the Big East. Junior Bashir Ahmed leads the team in rebounding,  averaging 5.5 rebounds/game, which ranks him tied for twelfth in the Big East.
  • Kyron Cartwright is currently 3rd in the nation in assists/game and Assist Rate. His 6.8 assists/game leads the Big East and trails Austin Luke’s 7.2 assists/game (Belmont) and Lonzo Ball’s 7.6 assists/game (UCLA). Cartwright will become the 4th Providence player under Ed Cooley to lead the Big East in assists. The previous three were Kris Dunn (2014-15), Bryce Cotton (2013-14) and Vincent Council (2011-12). Cartwright’s 42.6% Assist Rate trails just Maurice Watson’s 46.8% (Creighton) and Cassius Winston’s 48.3% (Michigan State), per The previous best Assist Rate by a Providence player since 2003-04  is Dunn’s 50.0% in the 2014-15 season. Dunn led the nation that year in Assist Rate.
  • Opening Line: Providence +1 at St. John’s 3/4/17

Game Preview

Providence and St. John’s tip off Saturday at Madison Square Garden to close out the regular season. The Friars are riding a red hot 5-game winning streak that has them on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble and shooting up the Big East standings. The Red Storm have already vastly improved on their 1-17 Big East record in Chris Mullin’s first season and St. John’s is already locked into an 8th place finish in the legendary Red Storm player’s second campaign. A win for Providence on Saturday means the Friars will finish either 3rd or 4th in the Big East with a 10-8 record and they would also notch their 20th win on the season. A loss means the Friars could finish anywhere from 4th to 6th and Providence would head into the Big East Tournament with more work to do in order to reach the NCAA Tournament for four straight seasons for the first time in school history. There are still tickets available on the secondary market and, if Providence fans are looking to sit near fellow Friars fans, the school’s allotment was in section 102.

One injury note to keep an eye on is St. John’s sophomore forward Tariq Owens missed the Red Storm’s last game at Creighton on Tuesday due to a sprained ankle suffered on February 25th. Owens has started 8 games this season and is averaging 5.4 points/game, 5.2 rebounds/game and 2.3 blocks/game. He is leading the Big East in blocks per game.

The probable starters according to the game notes are:

St. John’s

The keys to victory for Providence are to slow down St. John’s guards on the defensive end and run when they can on offense. The Friars don’t want to try to get into an up-and-down pace against St. John’s because that would be playing right into the hands of Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett. The Friars need to force the Red Storm to play halfcourt offense and make St. John’s make tough, contested shots. That’s where Providence’s defensive length comes into play. Jalen Lindsey and Alpha Diallo will do most of the heavy lifting on Ponds, LoVett and Bashir Ahmed with Isaiah Jackson also likely to come off the bench to provide some physicality on defense. St. John’s is capable of making tough shots but if Providence continues to play well on the defensive end, they won’t get enough of those looks to win the game as long as the Friars are able to get offense on the other end.

Part of getting offense on the other end will be taking the opportunities to score in transition, whether that be off of turnovers or missed jump shots that have a long rebound. Kyron Cartwright needs to know when to go and when to play slow and he’s been a master of that during this 5-game winning streak. Look for Providence to try to get the ball to Emmitt Holt and Rodney Bullock inside the 3-point line and for Lindsey to try to replicate his career-high 30 point performance on this weekend a year ago.

Prediction: Providence 73 St. John’s 70

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