St. John’s Red Storm looks to make the third time the charm when they take on Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in the first round of the Big East Tournament.
The Big East Tournament gets underway tonight at Madison Square Garden and the week gets started off with a legendary rivalry. For the third time this season, Chris Mullin’s St. John’s Red Storm will take on Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas in what should bring a lot of nostalgia to Big East fans everywhere. You can watch the game at 7 p.m ET on FS1.
In their two meetings during the regular season, Georgetown won both games by a combined seven points and their meeting at the Capital One Arena went to double overtime on Jan. 27 (Hoyas won 93-89).
The major storyline in this game is going to be the health of the Red Storm’s leading scorer, Shamorie Ponds. Ponds has missed the last two games for St. John’s because of an abdominal strain. Right now, he appears to be on track to play, but Coach Mullin didn’t reveal much about the status of Ponds in his meeting with the media on Tuesday:
Chris Mullin noncommittal on Shamorie Ponds status for Georgetown on Wednesday. Ponds practiced yesterday and Mullin said he’ll check in to see how Ponds feels today. #sjubb pic.twitter.com/DWAR7H0q6x
— Marley Paul (@MarleyPaul22) March 6, 2018
Ponds averaged 25 points per game in the two meetings against Georgetown including a 33-point performance in that Jan. 20 loss. It will be interesting to see how he is able to perform with the injury and whether or not that affects how many times he tries to drive the ball to the basket.
On the Georgetown side of the court, keep an eye on Jessie Govan down low. The junior was one of only two players in the conference to average ten boards per game (Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado was the other) and his 1.1 blocks per game was third in the Big East.
With rebounding being an issue for St. John’s this season, it is going to be up to Tariq Owens and Marvin Clark II to stay out of foul trouble and the offense to try to attack the paint and get Govan in foul trouble. The Georgetown big man had 21 rebounds in the two games against the Red Storm.
While Govan steals the show in the paint, the only player on the Hoyas that made an All-Big East team this year was junior forward Marcus Derrickson (second team). Derrickson shot 50.5 percent from the floor and averaged 17.2 points per game in Big East play. Plus, he was second in three-point percentage in conference games (50 percent).
As for X-factors in this game, Justin Simon is going to be a big key for the Red Storm if they want to keep this game close with their defense. While Simon had ten turnovers against Providence on Saturday, his ability to force turnovers and turn them into fastbreak points could prove to be valuable if this is a low-scoring game. In the two matchups this season, Georgetown did have 41 turnovers and their backcourt is fairly young.
For the Hoyas, keep an eye on their bench because with St. John’s lack of depth, Georgetown has a chance to win this game if they get positive contributions from their second unit. During that second matchup, the backcourt duo of Jahvon Blair and Jagan Moseley had 27 points.
Both of these fanbases hope that in the next couple of years, these two teams will be playing in bigger games than the first round of the conference tournament. Despite the records, you can always expect the game to be physical and some back-and-forth with words as we saw with Mullin and Patrick Ewing Jr. last year
Whoa. Benches clear, Chris Mullin & JT3 get into it. Things just got real chippy at @TheGarden. #BEtourney https://t.co/LWAzgpcks7
— FS1 (@FS1) March 9, 2017
As for a prediction on this game, expect it to be close because that’s the way St. John’s has played most of their games in the league this season. It will be back-and-forth, but Ponds will make enough plays late to get the Red Storm the win and a berth in the quarterfinals against the top seed, Xavier, on Thursday afternoon (noon ET, FS1).