After crushing Connecticut 73-51 in round one, St. John's will match up with the Marquette Golden Eagles in the second round of the Big East Tournament. Earlier in the season, Marquette traveled to New York and defeated St. John's 63-61 in overtime on a game winning shot from Jimmy Butler as time expired in overtime.
St. John's had won three of four when they took on Marquette in the regular season, and will again come into their contest with the Golden Eagles with a little bit of swagger after a dominating performance in New York.
Forward Sean Evans led the way with 19 points and 10 rebounds while guard Paris Horne added 13 points of his own. The Red Storm played stifling, in-your-face defense and forced 19 turnovers and held the Huskies to fewer than 38 percent shooting.
Malik Boothe had an efficient day in round one, making all four of his shot attempts and added three rebounds, nine assists, and four steals. The Red Storm were also able to survive a quiet day from their best player D.J. Kennedy, who finished with just eight points.
It was quite an uninspired performance from the Connecticut Huskies in the first round matchup, something St. John's will not face in round two. Rather, they are sure to come across a fired up Marquette squad who is ready to prove they are a legitimate contender in the NCAA Tournament.
When St. John's plays good defense, they are much tougher to beat. In their Big East wins, they have allowed just less than 59 points per game.
Despite the slow day, Kennedy is still the best player on the St. John's team and slowing him will be the key to victory for the Golden Eagles. He leads the team in most major offensive categories and can really turn things on, with scoring outputs of 23, 27, and 32 this season.
Dwight Hardy, the team's second leading scorer, did not play in the team's regular season finale against DePaul or in the win over Connecticut, and his status for the game unknown at this point.
St. John's features a very deep frontcourt, led by Justin Burrell, Anthony Mason Jr., Justin Brownlee and Sean Evans. All four average between six and seven points to go along with rebounding averages between 4.5 and 6 per game.
In the regular season win for Marquette, Kennedy scored 20 points on five-of-ten shooting, and made nine-of-11 free throws. Marquette shot just 34 percent from the field, and Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler combined for 40 of the team's 63 points. Darius Johnson-Odom made just two of his 12 field goal attempts.
Marquette turned the ball over just eight times and, despite the sloppy shooting, were able to come out with the win. They hit just five of their 18 three points shots, but the same should not be expected this time around. Even though St. John's will technically be playing a home game and will be warmed up from yesterday's game, Marquette is ready and hungry to make a run in the Big East Tournament to improve their seeding. Marquette plays well in New York and defeated St. John's 74-45 in the second round of last year's Tournament.
If Marquette takes care of the ball and is able to knock down their outside shots, it will be hard for St. John's to keep up with their pace. The Red Storm forced Connecticut into mistakes and dictated the pace, but don't expect that to happen tomorrow against the Golden Eagles.
Prediction: Marquette 75, St. John's 67
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