Villanova-St. John’s Preview
St. John’s is off to another poor Big East start, though it is receiving a boost against an opponent that has tormented it in the past but is no longer unbeaten.
Second-leading scorer Rysheed Jordan will be back for the No. 24 Red Storm as they look to avoid a sixth straight loss to No. 8 Villanova on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
St. John’s (11-3, 0-2) began 0-5 in Big East play a season ago and fell 73-69 to Butler on Saturday despite D’Angelo Harrison’s season-high 31 points.
The Red Storm played without Jordan, a sophomore guard and Philadelphia native who returned home due to the passing of his grandmother. Jordan is sixth in the conference with 14.0 points per game – second on the team to Harrison’s 20.3.
"Rysheed has returned from his home after going through a challenging week," coach Steve Lavin told the Red Storm’s official website Monday. "He will practice with the team today and suit up tomorrow for our game with Villanova."
Though Jordan comes off the bench, he will be used in a perimeter-oriented rotation that coach Jay Wright says could give Villanova problems.
The Wildcats struggled with Seton Hall’s guards as their bid to open 14-0 for the first time was foiled in Saturday’s 66-61 overtime road loss. Pirates guards Sterling Gibbs and Khadeen Carrington combined for 37 points.
Now Villanova (13-1, 1-1) must find a way to contain the Red Storm and the explosive Harrison, who is averaging 25.3 points in four games against the Wildcats though he has fouled out twice.
"They are going to be tough to guard," Wright told Villanova’s official website. "Seton Hall was tough for us and we know St. John’s will be too. Smaller teams that are quick and shoot the 3s have hurt us at times."
The Red Storm, however, are the Big East’s worst 3-point shooting team at 30.8 percent while the Pirates are second-best at 37.5, though they made 2 of 15 Saturday.
Regardless, Villanova didn’t lose back-to-back Big East games last season and is eager to defeat St. John’s for the 12th time in 13 meetings. The Wildcats have won their last seven visits to MSG in this series, including one in the Big East tournament.
Villanova is second in the conference with 75.9 points per game but finished with season lows of 31.0 percent shooting overall and 20.8 from beyond the arc Saturday.
"You don’t have to lose to learn a lesson," Wright said. "We talked to our guys about that. I don’t accept that – we don’t say, ‘Oh, it’s good we lost so we can learn.’ We want to win."
JayVaughn Pinkston is averaging 14.2 points in the five straight wins over the Red Storm as the power forward looks to recover from his seven-point, 1-of-7 shooting performance over the weekend. Ryan Arcidiacono was 1 of 9 for two points after totaling 31 in the previous two games.
The Red Storm’s Chris Obekpa is second in the nation with 3.9 blocks per game, and he has 13 in four contests against the Wildcats.
These teams average the fewest turnovers in the Big East, with St. John’s at 10.6 and Villanova at 11.4.