St. John's
CORVALLIS, OR - MARCH 04:Ronnie Stacy #2 of the Oregon State Beavers, Jordan Bell #1 of the Oregon Ducks and Drew Eubanks #12 of the Oregon State Beavers battle for position under the basket during the firt half of the game at Gill Coliseum on March 4, 2017 in Corvallis, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

St. John’s starts the AdvoCare Invitational on Thursday afternoon and has an opportunity to make another statement in this tournament.

This weekend, St. John’s has a big opportunity to win a holiday tournament and get a quality win or two on their resume

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, St. John’s is going to be in Orlando to take part in the AdvoCare Invitational. Right now, the team is 4-0 for the first time since 2014-15 and has looked impressive in each of those games. Plus, they may have caught somewhat of a break with one of their possible opponents.

On Tuesday afternoon, it was announced that Missouri star freshman forward Michael Porter Jr. will miss the rest of the season as he has to undergo back surgery. If St. John’s and Missouri win both of their games on Thursday, then the two would meet in the semifinals on Friday.

First, the Red Storm will need to take care of business against Oregon State on Thanksgiving (2 p.m ET, ESPNU). The Beavers are 2-1 on the season with wins over Southern Utah and Long Beach State (also in this tournament). Last year, Wayne Tinkle’s squad was 5-27 and had just one win in the Pac-12.

When you look at Oregon State’s offense, the frontcourt will be the area to watch Sophomore forward Tres Tinkle has averaged 21.3 points and eight rebounds per game and junior forward Drew Eubanks is averaging near 20 points per game.

In the first three games, Eubanks has found a way to get easy points in the paint. Out of the 26 shots he has taken, he has made 18 of them. Plus, you can’t let him get to the free throw line since he is 23-for-26 from the charity stripe.

The Beavers have had success in the frontcourt, but they have struggled mightily from downtown. It is a small sample size, but they are shooting under 24 percent from three-point range (last in the Pac-12). In fact, only three players on the team have taken more than ten three-pointers (Tinkle, Stephen Thompson Jr., and Ethan Thompson).

Despite the struggles from the perimeter, Thomspon Jr. does have six steals in the first three games. When you look at these two teams, they both can get steals and turn it into instant offense.

St. John’s has 38 steals in four games with Justin Simon (11) and Marcus LoVett (10) each in double-digits. With those two guards along with Shamorie Ponds (17.3 points per game), that’s a trio that will be tough for the Beavers to keep in check for 40 minutes unless there is foul trouble.

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As for the rest of the tournament, Nebraska is on the other half of the bracket, but St. John’s played them already and two wins against a Cornhuskers team picked to finish towards the bottom of the Big Ten isn’t going to get the Red Storm a lot of national respect.

With that being said, the one team that St. John’s could play in this tournament in a potential final that could raise eyebrows is West Virginia. The Mountaineers are ranked 23rd in the AP Poll with their only loss coming to 16th ranked Texas A&M in the Armed Forces Classic.

If St. John’s can find a way to win the AdvoCare Invitational, it will further enhance the Big East as one of the best conferences this year. They will have plenty of chances for quality wins in Big East play, but the non-conferences chances are few.

Of course, it all starts with taking care of business against Oregon State Thursday afternoon.


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