GAME NOTES: A pair of teams seemingly headed in opposite directions meet at Carnesecca Arena in Queens on Wednesday night, as the DePaul Blue Demons pay a visit to the St. Johns Red Storm for a Big East Conference bout.
After being blown out at Pittsburgh last Saturday, 93-55, the Blue Demons have dropped a season-high four straight games, and six of their last seven overall. Their last win came against Providence on Jan. 5.
Having won four consecutive games to equal their entire win total from 2011-12 and pull into in a tie for third place in the Big East standings, St. John's has a chance to claim sole possession of third place with a win over DePaul. The Red Storm are coming off a 71-67 win over Seton Hall on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
This game marks the 31st meeting in the series between the Red Storm and the Blue Demons, with the former holding a 16-14 edge overall and an 8-3 record in Big East play. The Red Storm have won seven straight in the series, including a matchup just 11 days ago. On Jan. 19, Sir'Dominic Pointer posted his first career double-double and Jamal Branch scored a career-high 18 points to lead St. John's to a 71-62 win at Allstate Arena.
Brandon Young scored 13 points and Moses Morgan added 11 as DePaul fell to Pittsburgh in a 93-55 final on Saturday afternoon. DePaul shot just 27.7 percent from the field, and while it led early on (8-7), the Panthers went on a 15-4 run to build a 10-point advantage with 11 minutes left in the first half. Pitt finished the opening half by going 20-of-40 from the field and led by as many as 26 points before taking a 53-30 lead at the break. The Blue Demons shot under 30 percent from the field for the first time since hitting its buckets at a mere 28.1 percent (18-64) against Mississippi State on Dec. 10, 2009.
DePaul is fortunate to have one of the best scoring tandems in the Big East on its side. Cleveland Melvin (17.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Young (16.5 ppg, 4.3 apg) are each among the top five scorers in the conference as the only players on the roster averaging in double figures. Melvin is also among the top-5 rebounders in the Big East. Led by its dynamic duo, DePaul is the third- highest scoring team in the Big East (74.0 ppg)
D'Angelo Harrison scored 24 points and Big East Rookie of the Week JaKarr Sampson added 19 as St. John's won its fourth straight game for the first time in three seasons, claiming a 71-67 decision from Seton Hall on Sunday. Harrison scored 10 of the Red Storm's final 12 points, a burst that began with nine minutes left and helped keep the Pirates, who closed within one point with 4:21 to play, at bay. Phil Greene IV tallied 10 points while Chris Obekpa swatted four shots. The big man finished with four points, the last two on a tip-in with 41 seconds left.
Harrison (19.8 ppg) and Sampson (14.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg) have been St. John's top two scoring options all season. Harrison is the second-leading point producer in the Big East, and he has scored in double figures in three straight games after a tough stretch in which he managed just 15 points in two games against Notre Dame and Georgetown. As a team, St. John's is closer to the bottom of the conference at the offensive end of the court, shooting 44.1 percent, while averaging 68.4 ppg. The Red Storm have made up for that with strong showings on defense as it allows less than 40 percent shooting. Blocked shots are a major reason with Obekpa (4.6 bpg) having swatted more shots than any player in the country.
The Red Storm are one of the hottest teams in the Big East and the Blue Demons are one of the coldest. Expect those trends to continue as the Red Storm clamps down on defense and notches its fifth straight victory.
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