St. John’s Welcomes No. 1/1 Villanova to The Garden

Jan. 12, 2018

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The Last Meeting
St. John's67
March 9, 2017
New York, N.Y. (Madison Square Garden)
St. John's Falls to Villanova in BIG EAST Quarterfinals
Just over 14 hours removed from recording the program's first BIG EAST Tournament win in six years, the St. John's men's basketball team proved unable to contain top-seeded Villanova on Thursday afternoon, as the Wildcats shot 63 percent from the floor and sank 15 3-pointers to come away with a 108-67 victory at Madison Square Garden.

QUEENS, N.Y. – The St. John’s men’s basketball team will look to return to its winning ways on Saturday night against the nation’s top team, playing host to the No. 1/1 Villanova at “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”
Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. and will be broadcast nationally on FOX Business Network with Aaron Goldsmith and Len Elmore on the call. In addition, the contest will be streamed through FOX Sports Go. Fans can also listen to the contest on 970 AM WNYM and through TuneIn Radio, as John Minko and Brandon Tierney will bring you the action live from Midtown.
The Johnnies enter Saturday’s contest against the Wildcats looking for the program’s sixth win all-time against the nation’s top team. The last time St. John’s bested the No. 1 team in the Associated Press Poll came when Chris Mullin led the Johnnies on the court instead of the sideline, as he scored a game-high 20 points in a 66-65 win over Georgetown on Jan. 26, 1985. The Red Storm has not captured a win against a No. 1 team inside Madison Square Garden since Dec. 30, 1978, when the Johnnies topped Duke, 69-66, in the Holiday Festival. Dating back to 1950, St. John’s is 4-14 overall against the nation’s top-ranked team during the regular season.
The Red Storm suffered its fifth-consecutive loss to start BIG EAST play on Tuesday, erasing an eight-point deficit in the second half before eventually falling to Georgetown, 69-66, at Madison Square Garden. Shamorie Ponds led the Johnnies in scoring for the 11th time in 16 appearances this season, tallying 17 points to go along with six assists and four steals. Justin Simon added 16 points, five steals and four assists, while Marvin Clark II also finished in double figures with 15 points and seven boards.  
In addition to their success on the offensive end, Simon and Ponds also lead the BIG EAST in steals per game at 2.7 and 2.6, respectively. Through games played on Thursday, the duo ranks sixth and ninth nationally in the category as individuals, respectively.
Another stalwart on the defensive end for the Red Storm, Tariq Owens turned in one of the top performances in St. John’s history against the Hoyas. The redshirt junior recorded eight rejections, becoming just the third Red Storm player to register that many swats in a single contest. The Odenton, Md., native also tied Sir’Dominic Pointer’s record for the most by a St. John’s player in a BIG EAST game, as Chris Obekpa accomplished the feat five times in non-conference play. On the season, Owens’ 3.65 blocks per game lead the BIG EAST and rank fifth nationally.
Villanova comes to New York sporting an overall record of 15-1 with its only setback coming on the road at Butler, a contest that saw the Bulldogs shoot 15-of-22 from beyond the three-point arc and 36-of-60 from the field overall. Most recently, the Wildcats dismantled No. 10/10 Xavier at home on Wednesday, leading the Musketeers by as many as 28 in the second half before closing out an 89-65 victory.
The Wildcats are led by national player of the year candidate Jalen Brunson, who averages a team-best 19.3 points per game to go along 5.2 assists per outing. Six Wildcats are averaging double figures on the season, as the team has converted 51.6 percent of its tries from the field and 41.3 percent of its chances from three-point range.
Villanova has won its lone appearance of the year at Madison Square Garden, a 16-point victory over then-No. 12 Gonzaga in The Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 5.
The Red Storm will hit the road for a pair of games after taking on the Wildcats, heading to Cincinnati for a showdown with Xavier on Wednesday before traveling to the nation’s capital on Saturday to face off against Georgetown.




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