St. John's (16-11) at Providence (15-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 2, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dunkin' Donuts Center (12,400) -- Providence, Rhode Island. Television: Cox, SNY, Big East Network, MASN. Home Record: St. John's 12-4, Providence 10-4. Away Record: St. John's 4-5, Providence 4-6. Neutral Record: St. John's 0-2, Providence 1-2. Conference Record: St. John's 8-7, Providence 7-8. Series Record: St. John's leads, 57-42.
GAMES NOTES: In their first meeting in more than a year the St. John's Red Storm will clash with the Providence Friars in a Big East Conference duel at the Dunkin' Donuts Center on Saturday night.
St. John's NCAA Tournament hopes have all but disappeared thanks to losses in three of its last four games. The Red Storm are now 16-11 overall while a middling 8-7 in league action. Those aren't quite the makings of a resume needed to grab a bid to the Big Dance. This contest is the first half of a two-game road trip for St. John's, which is 4-5 away from home and will play No. 21 Notre Dame next.
Providence started off its Big East schedule rather poorly but has picked up steam with the regular season coming to a close. The Friars have won five of their last six games to improve to 15-12 overall, while nearing the .500 mark in league action (7-8). Providence is 10-4 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center this season including impressive wins over Cincinnati and Notre Dame. Providence plays the second half of this two-game homestand on Tuesday against Seton Hall.
The last time these teams met up on a basketball court was in Dec. of 2011 when St. John's took an 81-67 victory at Carnesecca Arena. That win was the second straight for the Red Storm in the all-time series which it leads, 57-42.
St. John's has been off since last Sunday when it fell in a 63-47 decision against No. 20 Pittsburgh. The Red Storm managed to shoot just 31.6 percent overall in the contest while registering just seven field goals in the second half as they were stifled by the Panthers.
D'Angelo Harrison (17.8 ppg) had a horrific outing against Pitt as the Red Storm's leading scorer managed to hit just 1-of-12 shots from the floor for six points, his second-lowest point total of the season. Unfortunately, it will be the last impression he will give on the court this year, as Steve Lavin announced that Harrison has been suspended for the remainder of the season for conduct detrimental to the team. JaKarr Sampson (14.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg) had 14 points in the loss to Pitt for his 13th double-figure effort in league action and will need to step up even more in Harrison's absence the rest of the way. Still, St. John's is a more defensive-minded team thanks in part to its work protecting the rim. Led by Chris Obekpa (4.1 bpg) the Red Storm lead the nation in blocked shots (7.4 bpg).
Big East-leading scorer Bryce Cotton was at it again for Providence last Saturday. Cotton led the Friars to a 76-72 win over Rutgers with a game-high 22 points, while LaDontae Henton (18 points, 10 rebounds) hung up a double- double.
Cotton (20.1 ppg, 3.0 apg) has been at the top of the scoring list in the Big East for much of the season after having scored in double figures in all but one game this year. Cotton can get his shot off from anywhere on the floor as he hits 38.2 percent from beyond the arc and 44.6 percent overall. Vincent Council (10.0 ppg, 7.2 apg) is normally running the offense and feeding Cotton the ball as one of the better point guards in the conference. On the inside, Henton (13.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and Kadeem Batts (14.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg) form quite a duo with their ability to score and clean the glass. There isn't much depth off the bench though for the Friars who are in the bottom half of the conference in scoring (68.1 pg) and field-goal percentage (.418).
Both of these teams have a lot of talent and are perhaps just a year away from really competing for a conference title once again. The Dunkin' Donuts Center has proved to be a safe haven for the Friars this season and it should yet again on Saturday, especially with the scoring of Harrison no longer a luxury for the visiting Red Storm.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Providence 67, St. John's 60
03/02 10:34:02 ET