South Carolina (5-1) at St. John's (4-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 29, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carnesecca Arena (5,602) -- Queens, New York. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: South Carolina 3-1, St. John's 3-0. Away Record: South Carolina 0-0, St. John's 1-0. Neutral Record: South Carolina 2-0, St. John's 0-2. Conference Record: South Carolina 0-0, St. John's 0-0. Series Record: St. John's leads, 3-0.
GAME NOTES: The St. John's Red Storm welcome the South Carolina Gamecocks to Queens on Thursday for a non-conference clash at Carnesecca Arena, as part of the Big East/SEC Challenge.
Steve Lavin is back on the bench and the Red Storm are off to a solid start, with wins in four of their first six games. The team dropped a pair of neutral site games to Murray State and Baylor, but has since won two in row, topping Holy Cross (65-53) and most recently, Florida Gulf Coast (79-68).
Frank Martin's first season in Columbia has gotten off on the right foot, as the Gamecocks have won five of their six games to date. The lone loss came to Elon (65-53) last week, but USC has responded with a couple of wins as part of the Hoops for Hope Classic in Mexico this past weekend, topping Missouri State (74-67 OT) and Arkansas-Little Rock (74-62).
St. John's has won all three prior meetings with South Carolina, although the last matchup took place back in 1975.
The Gamecocks were able to claim the tournament title in Puerto Vallarta with a 12-point win over UALR. Lakeem Jackson was instrumental in the victory, posting his second double-double of the season with 10 points and a career- high 15 rebounds. He had plenty of offensive help, as four others notched double digits, led by Brenton Williams' 17 points. LaShay Page poured in 16 points in support, while Mindaugas Kacinas and Eric Smith checked in with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
That has been the running theme for South Carolina this season, as the team's 76.3 ppg has come with great balance. The Gamecocks are shooting a healthy .486 from the floor overall, with four players currently averaging double figures. Page leads the charge with a steady 15.5 ppg. Williams is next in line at 13.5 ppg, followed by Michael Carerra (12.3 ppg) and Jackson (11.2 ppg), who is also the team's top rebounder (8.3 rpg).
St. John's doesn't have quite as much scoring depth as South Carolina, but has been efficient at the offensive end, averaging 71.7 ppg, on .473 shooting. What St. John's does possess is a dynamic scorer in D'Angelo Harrison. The 6- foot-3 sophomore is averaging a hefty 21.2 ppg this year and has made opponents pay for sending him to the free-throw line, converting 24-of-26 charity tosses thus far. Phil Greene and JaKarr Sampson provide complementary scorers, at 13.8 and 12.3 ppg, respectively.
The Red Storm were pushed around by Florida Gulf Coast on a boards in the first half and as a result, found themselves tied with the visitors at the break. St. John's took it up a notch or two over the final 20 minutes, shooting a red-hot 60.6 percent from the floor to distance itself from Florida Gulf Coast and earn the win. Harrison once again led the way offensively with 20 points. Sir'Dominic Pointer poured in 15 points off the bench, while Sampson and Greene chipped in with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Gamecocks are off to a good start, but winning in Queens, with Harrison playing the way he is right now, is a tall task.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: St. John's 73, South Carolina 70
11/29 10:38:32 ET