GAME NOTES: The St. John's Red Storm will try to sweep the regular-season series with the Seton Hall Pirates when the two teams tip it off in a Big East Conference tilt at the Prudential Center.
Career win No. 200 for St. John's head coach Steve Lavin was indeed a special one, as his team upset 12th-ranked Creighton by a 70-65 final on Sunday. The Red Storm have gotten hot of late, as they enter this contest riding a three- game win streak and have emerged victorious in six of their last seven overall.
Seton Hall is right back in action after falling to Marquette Tuesday night, 77-66. That game kicked off a three-game homestand for the Pirates, who have lost three of their last four outings.
St. John's claimed a 77-76 home victory in the first head-to-head meeting of the season back on Jan. 23. The Red Storm hold a 56-34 edge in the all-time series with Seton Hall.
Perhaps the biggest key to St. John's win over nationally-ranked Creighton was the late-game defensive play of JaKarr Sampson, who did not allow Bluejays' leading scorer and consensus All-American Doug McDermott to get off a single shot attempt over the final eight and a half minutes. Creighton, which entered the game as the nation's top 3-point shooting team, sank only 5-of-22 attempts (.227) from beyond the arc, nearly 20 percent below its season average. On the offensive end of the floor, D'Angelo Harrison led the way for St. John's with a team-high 19 points, followed by Chris Obekpa with 11. Harrison is averaging a team-best 18.3 ppg on the season to go along with 48 3-pointers (.369). Sampson is also averaging double figures with 12.5 ppg to go along with 6.3 rebounds.
Guards Sterling Gibbs (14.4 ppg) and Fuquan Edwin (13.7 ppg) headline Seton Hall's lineup, although the Pirates have also gotten solid frontcourt play from Brian Oliver (12.0 ppg) and Eugene Teague (10.1 ppg). Teague paces the squad with 7.8 rpg, while swingman Oliver is shooting at a ridiculous 44- percent clip from beyond the arc (71-of-162) to rank among the nation's leaders in that department. In Tuesday's game against Marquette, the Pirates shot a healthy 53.3 percent from the floor as a team and made 10-of-21 threes. However, they grabbed just 19 rebounds (minus-13) and shot a dismal 8-of-14 at the foul line, while the Golden Eagles were 30-of-34 at the charity stripe. Oliver paced four double-digit scorers with SHU with 15 points in the loss.
The Red Storm are coming off an impressive victory, but they'll need to be careful to avoid a letdown on Seton Hall's home court.
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