St. John’s aiming for another upset vs. No. 10 Creighton
NEW YORK — The last time the St. John’s men’s basketball team played at Carnesecca Arena, it beat then-No. 13 Butler to earn the program’s first on-campus win over a ranked opponent since 1998. The Red Storm will look to author an even more impressive encore Wednesday night, when it hosts 10th-ranked Creighton.
The 76-73 win over Butler on Dec. 29 was St. John’s first win over a top-15 opponent at home since a victory over No. 13 Syracuse on Feb. 23, 1983. It was also the second of three straight wins for the Red Storm, who routed Syracuse 93-60 on Dec. 21 and edged DePaul 79-73 on Sunday to improve to 2-0 in the Big East for the first time since 2010-11.
The recent surge has generated a buzz about the Red Storm (8-7), who went just 8-24 last season and have made the NCAA Tournament just three times since 2000. A win over Creighton would certainly garner more attention for St. John’s, which last beat a top-10 team on campus on Dec. 9, 1975, when it beat No. 7 Tennessee at what was then known as Alumni Hall.
Second-year head coach Chris Mullin is hoping the Red Storm is less focused on what could happen Wednesday and more on simply building off the momentum generated over the last three games.
“You kind of just deal with the moment,” Mullin said Tuesday. “Naturally, we all want to win and feel good every day, but that’s not reality. We make a concerted effort to stay in the moment. When you lose and feel terrible, you go through that day. When we win, it feels better and we sleep better, but we deal with it, file it away and prepare for the next day.”
Creighton (13-1 overall, 1-1 Big East) is preparing off a loss for the first time after falling to top-ranked Villanova, 80-70, on Saturday afternoon. The 13-0 start marked only the third time in program history the Blue Jays have opened 13-0 or better.
On Saturday, host Creighton led the defending national champions by 10 points twice in the first half but saw its upset hopes disappear by hitting just two of its final 10 shots in the game.
The defeat doubly stung Creighton, which is one of the most high-scoring teams in the nation. The Blue Jays entered the week ranked 10th in the nation in points per game (88.4) and second in both field goal percentage (53.7 percent) and 3-point field goal percentage (43 percent).
“We just didn’t make the shots,” freshman center Justin Patton said. “But we’ll make those shots, later in the season.”
St. John’s defense will provide another test for the Blue Jays. Red Storm opponents are shooting 41.8 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from 3-point land.
The Red Storm might also be able to keep pace in a shootout. St. John’s is averaging 78.6 points per game and leads the Big East with 149 3-pointers.