GAME NOTES: Fresh off their first win in league play, the St. John's Red Storm will try to pick up another as they visit Hinkle Fieldhouse for a Big East Conference bout against the Butler Bulldogs.
The Red Storm earned their second consecutive victory on Thursday when they edged Seton Hall, 77-76, at Carnesecca Arena. St. John's lost the first five games of its Big East slate before downing the Pirates and will be seeking its first win in a true road game when it visits Indianapolis. Coach Steve Lavin's team is ranked fifth in the conference in points per game at 73.4 ppg, but has just the eighth best scoring defense with an allowance of 68.2 ppg. The Red Storm are the only member of the Big East with a negative rebounding margin at -0.2.
Coach Brandon Miller's first season with his alma mater has recently taken a turn for the worse. Butler's 65-56 loss at Providence on Tuesday marked its sixth loss in seven outings and dropped it to a 1-6 Big East record. The Bulldogs set a new season-low for points in a game against the Friars even though they made good on 42.9 percent of their field goal attempts.
This will be the first meeting between these schools since the 1958 NIT. St. John's defeated the Bulldogs, 76-69, in the inaugural bout and will be making its first-ever trip to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday.
The Red Storm used a collective effort to clip Seton Hall on Thursday. D'Angelo Harrison, Jakarr Sampson and Orlando Sanchez all scored 16 points while Jamal Branch provided a spark off the bench with 11 points. Sir'Dominic Pointer added 10 points and also knocked the ball away from the Pirates' Fuquan Edwin at mid-court just before the buzzer to seal the game. St. John's connected on 50.9 percent of its field goal attempts in the contest but still nearly lost after missing 3-of-4 free-throw tries in the final minute. The Red Storm still finished 16-of-21 at the charity stripe. Harrison is pacing the team in the scoring column with 18.2 ppg although he has made under 40 percent of his shots from the floor. Sanchez has been on a roll as of late with an average of 11.8 ppg and 5.3 rpg over his last four outings.
Butler's dynamic duo of Kellen Dunham and Khyle Marshall continued to spearhead the charge on Tuesday. Dunham logged 17 points and six rebounds while Marshall tacked on 15 points in the loss. Miller's lack of options on the offensive end was once again apparent as Alex Barlow and Kameron Woods netted only six points apiece in the loss. Providence had a 37-22 advantage in total rebounds as well, which limited the Bulldogs' possessions greatly. Dunham is the third-leading scorer in the Big East at 18.3 ppg and Marshall is ninth with 15.7 ppg. Butler does not have any other players carrying double- digit scoring averages to this point, however Woods is pacing the conference on the boards with 9.6 per tilt.
The Bulldogs will have trouble matching St. John's in this one as the Red Storm clearly have many more weapons to utilize on the offensive end. Butler will need a terrific performance out of either Dunham or Marshall to survive the visitors, who have plenty of athletes to counter the Bulldogs' duo.
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