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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 9, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (19,033) -- New York, New York. Television: Big East Network. Home Record: RU 7-1, STJ 7-1. Away Record: RU 2-2, STJ 2-2. Neutral Record: RU 1-0, STJ 0-2. Conference Record: RU 1-1, STJ 1-1. Series Record: St. John's leads, 25-12.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams coming off wins over nationally-ranked opponents will meet up inside Madison Square Garden, as the St. John's Red Storm host the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in Big East Conference play.
Rutgers rebounded from a 25-point loss at Syracuse last Wednesday by taking down No. 24 Pittsburgh on Saturday, 67-62. The loss to the seventh-ranked Orange was the only setback over the last month for the Scarlet Knights, who have won six of their last seven outings. Following this tilt, they'll return to the RAC to host Cincinnati this weekend.
St. John's just earned a 53-52 victory over the 14th-ranked Bearcats this past Saturday. Tonight's contest will begin a stretch of three straight games at MSG for the Red Storm, who have won seven of eight at home this season. They'll play host to No. 15 Georgetown on Saturday.
St. John's has won five of the last six meetings with Rutgers and leads the all-time series, 25-12.
RU shot 51.2 percent from the floor against Pitt, marking the fifth time this season the team has shot better than 50 percent. Not surprisingly, the Scarlet Knights are 5-0 in those games. They got off to a torrid start in Saturday's win, making each of their first six shot attempts to build an early 12-2 lead. Rutgers went on to shoot 51.2 percent from the floor in the first half en route to a 39-25 lead at the break. Defensively, the Scarlet Knights held the Panthers to 8-of-26 shooting (.308) in that decisive opening frame. Sophomore Eli Carter would finish with 23 points off the bench, his 12th straight game in double figures. Carter is averaging a team-best 17.5 points per game on the season, and he has been even more efficient in four games off the bench, averaging 20.8 points. Fellow sophomore Myles Mack (13.2 ppg) chipped in with 11 points for his 10th double-figure scoring game of the season and 25th of his young career.
While RU can turn to a couple of very capable scorers in Carter and Mack, the Red Storm boast the Big East's leading scorer in sophomore guard D'Angelo Harrison (21.6 ppg). Harrison is a volume shooter but also a very productive all-around player, as he is averaging 2.5 3-pointers per contest (.357) to go along with 4.4 rebounds and nearly two steals. He is complemented down low by freshman JaKarr Sampson, who checks in with 13.9 points and a team-best 7.0 rebounds per tilt. Sampson has not gotten a whole lot of help in the paint from his teammates, as St. John's is -3.8 in rebounding margin on the season. However, Steve Lavin's squad makes up for it by maximizing possessions, as the Red Storm are committing only 11.2 turnovers per game for a +3.4 differential. They also came through with a huge defensive effort to upset Cincinnati, as they held the Bearcats to 31.7-percent shooting. Harrison scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, including the deciding jumper with 29 seconds remaining.
This is an intriguing matchup between two young but promising Big East teams coming off big wins. Rutgers has played very well over the past month, but beating Lavin's Red Storm at the Garden will be no easy task.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: St. John's 75, Rutgers 71
01/09 10:34:28 ET
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