Coming off of a dominating win over South Carolina the St. John’s Red Storm look to finish off a perfect four game home stand agains the NJIT Highlanders of the Great West Conference. The Storm will once again be without JUCO transfer Orlando Sanchez as he awaits an eligibility ruling from the NCAA.
St. John’s leads the all-time series against the Highlanders 2-0, the last time these two teams played was in 2008 when St. John’s went on for an easy win, 82-54. That game was notable though as former Red Storm forward Justin Burrell broke one of the Carnesecca Arena hoops with a huge slam dunk. The Highlanders have only been in Division I since the 2006-2007 season and have gone through some tough times including a winless season and a 51 game losing streak. But things have turned around as they are coming off consecutive 15 win season and a trip to the Great West Conference title game.
Date: Saturday, December 1, 2012
Location: Carnesecca Arena- Queens, New York
Time: 1:00 PM EST
TV: ESPN3 (Tony Luftman, Tarik Turner)
Radio: WBBR 1130 AM (John Minko, Tim O’Toole)
The Highlanders are off to their best start since becoming a Division I program, coming into Queens winning its last three games, all at home. They are lead by senior guard Chris Flores; Flores is averaging 18.7 points and was the preseason GWC Player of the Year. Flores dropped 28 points in the season opener at Providence, tying a school-Division I record, where the Highlanders only lost by 1.
The Highlanders are a good rebounding team and will present problems for the Red Storm. The Highlanders have out rebounded their last five opponents and are 15-6 when they out rebound their opponent in the past two years. As a team they shoot it at a 46% clip and 37% from three.
Projected Starting Lineup:
F Terrence Smith
C Sean McCarthy
G Chris Flores
G PJ Miller
G Ryan Woods
The Johnnies are coming off their most impressive win of the season, a 89-65 romp of the South Carolina Gamecocks. Everything finally clicked for the Johnnies as they were able to put it all together. Sophomore D’Angelo Harrison has been on fire to start the season as he has scored 20+ points in six of the first seven games. He lit up the nets for 26 points on 13 shots and is the Big East leader in points per game at 21.9.
Amir Garrett continues to impress off the bench, the two sport star had another double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Garrett, a 6-6 forward, is leading the team in rebounding with 5.7 a contest.
Felix Balamou made two separate SportsCenter Top 10 plays on Friday morning, for his alley oop slam and two blocks within seconds of each other, respectively. Balamou has been a pleasant surprise for Steve Lavin and the Johnnies, Balamou had 8 points, 3 rebounds and 3 blocks against South Carolina and it seems the decision to play him this year will only benefit him and the Johnnies.
Projected Starting Lineup:
F JaKarr Sampson
F Sir’Dominic Pointer
G Phil Greene
G D’Angelo Harrison
G Felix Balamou
Keys to Victory
- ‘O’ from Dee - The best player for the Red Storm is D’Angelo Harrison. Harrison has come out of the blocks this season on a mission, a mission to be the best player in the Big East and put together a good season for the Red Storm after a hard first year. Harrison is averaging 21.9 points and when he gets going, St. John’s is lethal. Harrison is shooting 39% from downtown and 46% overall. A good game from Harrison will go a long way.
- Rebounding- NJIT has been a good rebounding team so far this season, St. John’s has not been. Winning the battle of the glass will be important, in a blowout win over South Carolina the Johnnies were still out rebounded 43-31. St. John’s will be given a test on the boards and this will be a good game for them to work out the kinks before Big East play.
- Don’t Play Down- While NJIT isn’t a cupcake and has taken another Big East team to the wire, St. John’s should win this game easily. The Red Storm have the better team, if they play to their strengths and within themselves they should be able to cruise to victory. Games against Holy Cross and Florida Gulf Coast were a first half struggle, but if they play fast and athletic, cause turnovers and take good shots they will put the game away and have another Sam Sealy sighting.
Final Prediction: St. John’s Wins, 70-55