The Time: The Marquette University men’s basketball team (11-17, 3-13 BIG EAST) returns home Wednesday, Mar. 4 to host St. John’s (20-9, 9-7 BIG EAST) at 8:00 p.m. CT at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
TV: FOX Sports 1 will feature Marquette’s 25th national television broadcast of the campaign, with Brian Anderson (play-by-play) and Tarik Turner (analyst) calling the action.
The Series: Dates back to 1959-60
The Golden Eagles have won 15 of the 24 contests played between Marquette and St. John’s and claimed victory in 13 of the last 17. Since defeating the Red Storm to clinch a share of the Big East title in 2013, however, Marquette has lost the last three matchups.
The teams met this season on Jan. 21st at Madison Square Garden in a game that saw Marquette lose a late lead and fall 60-57. After rallying from a three-point halftime deficit with a 16-6 run, the Golden Eagles surrendered the eight-point advantage they held with 12:56 remaining. Graduate senior Matt Carlino scored a game-high 21 points, and his five threes kept Marquette in contention.
St. John’s Red Storm
The Red Storm score 72.0 points per game (70th in the country) and are exceptional at denying baskets averaging a whopping 6.7 blocks (fifth in the country). Junior forward Chris Obekpa (6.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.2 bpg) and senior guard Sir’Dominic Pointer (14.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.6 bpg) record the majority of those blocked shots, and Marquette will have its hands full working around both players on offense.
Like Marquette, St. John’s is also adept at stealing the basketball (7.8 spg, 33rd in the country) led by Pointer’s two steals per game.
Senior guard D’Angelo Harrison is second in the Big East in scoring with 17.8 points per game, just below Providence’s LaDontae Henton (20.4 ppg). Pointer and sophomore guard Rysheed Jordan (13.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.1 apg) combined for 30 points off the bench in the win over Marquette, while Harrison was the third of four double-digit scorers for the Red Storm.
St. John’s, currently fifth in the Big East, still has a lot to play for, as it’s hoping to improve both its NCAA Championship stock and its seeding in the conference tournament.
Marquette Golden Eagles
Marquette knows it will begin play next Wednesday in the Big East tournament, but it could still alter its seeding with help from other teams. Besides that, there will be pride on the line for what’s been a difficult season.
In their last two games at the Bradley Center, Marquette’s seniors will likely look to leave it all on the court, and all three could make big differences against the Red Storm.
Carlino is coming off a 21-point performance in the Golden Eagle’s 77-66 loss at Providence, his second game back from injury. In what figures to be a defensive scrum, Carlino will need to hit his shots when he gets them, as he did against St. John’s earlier this season. He got up 11 attempts from beyond the arc in that contest, and his 3-point shooting will again be a factor for Marquette.
Marquette’s forwards went a combined nine-for-39 from the field and lost 16 offensive rebounds (despite pulling down 20) in the previous matchup. Any improvement from the offensive frontcourt would obviously bode well for the Golden Eagles this time around.
Despite their issues scoring in the paint, Marquette outrebounded St. John’s 43-39 thanks to a solid team effort led by senior guard Derrick Wilson and junior forward Steve Taylor Jr.’s 16 combined boards. That allowed the Golden Eagles to remain competitive to the very end, which has become uncommon recently.
Juan Anderson made little impact on the game with four rebounds, two assist and no points, so if he can put forth the solid all-around showing he has in other contests, it could pay dividends.
Given both teams’ stealing ability, turnovers should be a factor. The Red Storm scored 14 points off 15 Marquette giveaways last time around, so the Golden Eagles will likely put a premium on protecting the basketball.
Perhaps more than anything else, Marquette will have to focus on clamping down defensively in the second half. Their failure to do so has allowed the competition to either come back or pull away late in games time and time again.
Against another physical opponent in what’s been a very physical conference this season, Marquette will again have to pull out all the stops in hopes of an upset.
A Look Ahead: Marquette finishes up regular season play Saturday at home against DePaul. After the contest, as part of the team’s annual Senior Day, seniors Matt Carlino, Derrick Wilson and Juan Anderson will be recognized.