(19) Georgetown (10-3) at St. John's (9-6)
Saturday, January 12, 11 a.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (18,119) -- New York, New York. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Georgetown 8-1, St. John's 7-1. Away Record: Georgetown 0-1, St. John's 2-2. Neutral Record: Georgetown 2-1, St. John's 0-2. Conference Record: Georgetown 0-2, St. John's 1-2. Series Record: St.; John's leads, 53-44.
GAME NOTES: The 19th-ranked Georgetown Hoyas will attempt to bounce back from consecutive losses in their first two league games when they take on the St. John's Red Storm in a long-time Big East conference rivalry at Madison Square Garden.
The last time the Hoyas hit the floor did not end well as they were knocked off by Pittsburgh, 73-45, on their own court. The loss followed a 49-48 loss to Marquette on the road in the conference opener for Georgetown, which is now 10-3 overall. The loss to Marquette came in the first true road test for the Hoyas, who will return home to host Providence next.
After a tough 58-56 loss to Rutgers on Wednesday, St. John's is now 1-2 in league play with the single win a 53-52 victory over Cincinnati. Overall the Red Storm are 9-6 with losses in three of their last four games. In terms of home contests the Red Storm have seven wins in eight tries at MSG where they will remain against No. 17 Notre Dame on Tuesday.
These teams are two of the original seven that formed the Big East back in 1979. St. John's has gotten the better of Georgetown overall with a 53-44 edge in the all-time series, although the Hoyas have won three straight, including a series sweep last year.
Georgetown just couldn't find its shooting stroke against Pittsburgh as the Hoyas hit just 35.1 percent of their field goal attempts with just 13 total field goals in the contest. No player scored in double figures for Georgetown which was outscored by sizable margins in the paint (32-16) and off turnovers (20-8).
The Hoyas have scored less than 50 points four times already this season, including each of the last two contests. Overall Georgetown is the lowest scoring team in the Big East (63.5 ppg), while ranking second to last in rebounds (32.4 pg). The reason the team has won the majority of its games is because of how well it has played on defense. Georgetown is letting up just 55.7 points per game on 38.7 percent shooting. The Hoyas' opponent scoring average is the 11th best nationally. Georgetown is powered from the inside by the frontcourt duo of Otto Porter (12.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and Greg Whittington (12.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg). Markel Starks (11.2 ppg) provides a scoring threat in the backcourt.
St. John's also had a tough offensive outing against Rutgers as the Red Storm hit just 35.2 percent from the field, including a 3-of-15 effort from beyond the arc. The Red Storm had a chance to win the game at the end but a JaKarr Sampson 3-point heave in the final seconds was off the mark.
The Red Storm may actually be one of the best teams equipped to take on Georgetown with how well it defends the paint. The team is already one blocked shot away from tying the school record with 129 rejections this season. Leading the way has been Chris Obekpa, who blocked five shots against Rutgers and has now tied a school record with 76 already this season. Obekpa (4.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg) hasn't added much in terms of offense, but is tied with Kansas' Jeff Withey for the most blocks (5.1 pg) in the country. Powering the offense is D'Angelo Harrison (21.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg), who is tied for the conference lead in scoring. Sampson (13.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg) is the only other player on the squad scoring in double figures. St. John's matched up well with Georgetown as they also fail to score particularly well (69.1 ppg), ranking 12th in the league in points per game, while holding teams to less than 40 percent shooting on the defensive end.
With Obekpa and Sampson on the interior the Red Storm should be able to handle the Hoyas' frontcourt to free Harrison to light up the scoreboard and push St. John's to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: St. John's 67, Georgetown 63
01/12 10:31:55 ET