FACTS & STATS: Site: Allstate Arena (17,500) -- Rosemont, Illinois. Television: SNY, Big East Network, MASN Home Record: St. John's 8-3. DePaul 6-4. Away Record: St. John's 2-2, DePaul 4-1. Neutral Record: St. John's 0-2, DePaul 0-2. Conference Record: St. John's 2-3, DePaul 1-3. Series Record: St. John's leads, 15-14.
GAMES NOTES: After downing a nationally ranked Notre Dame squad on Tuesday the St. John's Red Storm take to the road to face the DePaul Blue Demons in a Big East Conference clash at Allstate Arena.
The Red Storm knocked off the No. 20 Fighting Irish, 67-63, in a tightly contested matchup that ended a three-game homestand. St. John's earned its 10th win in the contest and also improved its conference record to 2-3. Both of the Red Storm's conference wins have come against ranked teams with the other coming against then No. 14 Cincinnati.
The Blue Demons have struggled since conference play began with losses in four of the last five games with three of those defeats against Big East foes. The most recent setback came on Tuesday against Cincinnati, 75-70, in the first part of this two-game homestand. DePaul also has a 10-7 overall mark this season with a 6-4 ledger at Allstate Arena.
St. John's swept the season series last year and has won each of the last six meetings to take a 15-14 edge in the all-time series.
In the upset win over Notre Dame, the Red Storm led by as many as 12 points and held off a late charge b hitting 3-of-4 foul shots in the last 30 seconds. The Red Storm had a slight 36-32 edge on the boards and led by three from Amir Garrett and D'Angelo Harrison blocked nine shots.
Swatting shots has been a staple for St. John's this season led by the conference's top shot blocker Chris Obekpa, who has rejected 4.9 shots per game. That ability to protect the rim has helped the Red Storm limit foes to just 66.4 points per game on 39.7 percent shooting. However the Red Storm have struggled on the offensive end with only Harrison and JaKarr Sampson scoring in double figures. Harrison (19.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg) has done all he can to carry the Red Storm, ranking second in the conference in scoring. Sampson (13.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg) has been a solid contributor both on offense and in the paint.
In the loss to Cincinnati, DePaul allowed the Bearcats to hit on 59.5 percent of their field goal attempts. The Blue Demons were also on the short end of deficits from both the free-throw line (19-6) and from beyond the arc (18-6). DePaul did have the edge inside with a 48-28 edge in points in the paint.
DePaul is fortunate enough to have one of the best scoring tandems in the Big East on its side. Cleveland Melvin (17.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Brandon Young (17.3 ppg, 4.4 apg) are each among the top five scorers in the conference as the only players on the roster averaging in double figures. Melvin is also among the top 10 rebounds in the Big East while Young has Young has scored in double figures in five straight games while handing out at least four assists in three of those games. Led by Young and Melvin, DePaul is the third- highest scoring team in the Big East (74.9 ppg).
Although the Red Storm have clearly proven that they can hang with some of the top teams in the Big East, St. John's has been too inconsistent, especially on the road. If Young and Melvin can keep scoring well and neutralize OBekpa's shot blocking, the Blue Demons will pull out a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: DePaul 71, St. John's 68
01/19 10:32:41 ET
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