Winners of five of their last six games, head coach Steve Lavin and the St. John's basketball team (14-9, 4-6 BIG EAST) clash with No. 12/12 Creighton only 12 days after the Red Storm nearly upset the Bluejays in Omaha. Lavin goes for his 200th career win and SJU looks to avenge the 63-60 decision dealt by the BIG EAST-leading Bluejays (Jan. 28) on Sunday at 7 p.m., this time at the World's Most Famous Arena. The game airs on FOX Sports 1 -- one of 29 nationally-televised contests for St. John's in 2013-14 -- with announcers Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery. The matchup will air on the official radio flagship of the IMG St. John's Basketball Network -- Bloomberg Radio 1130-AM -- via Sirius Channel 193 and XM Channel 91, and on RedStormSports.com (subscription), with announcers John Minko and Brandon Tierney. The Red Storm owns a current RPI of 63, with the 32nd-toughest schedule in the nation (10-3 home; 2-4 road; 2-2 neutral). Four of St. John's losses have come to teams rated in the RPI's top 12 -- a neutral game vs. Wisconsin (RPI No. 12, 18-5), at home at The Garden vs. still-unbeaten Syracuse (RPI No. 5, 22-0) and Villanova (RPI No. 3, 20-2), and at Creighton (RPI No. 10, 18-3). St. John's has return a game vs. the Wildcats on Feb. 22. St. John's comes into Sunday's contest tied for seventh place in the BIG EAST, having played five of its first eight league games on the road, and falling three times by three points or less (at DePaul, 77-75, Jan. 14; Providence, 84-83 2OT, Jan. 16; at Creighton, 63-60, Jan. 28). The BIG EAST's fourth-place team currently has five league wins; the third-place team has six. D'Angelo Harrison, JaKarr Sampson and Rysheed Jordan combined to score 61 points and St. John's shot a scorching 61.1 percent (22-of-36) as part of a 53-point first half effort before withstanding a furious second half rally to notch an 86-76 victory at Providence on Tuesday. St. John's is 5-3 all-time series record against Creighton, dating to an 84-75 victory on Jan. 30, 1961, at Fordham University in the Bronx. On Jan. 28 in Omaha -- down by 18 with 12:02 to play -- St. John's ripped off a 28-10 run before a Doug McDermott 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds on the clock gave then-No. 20/20 Creighton a 63-60 victory. Harrison scored 15, while Sampson totaled 10 with six boards. Jordan finished with 11, helping SJU to an 18-0 fast break advantage. St. John's is 0-4 on the season against ranked opponents, falling to then-No. 20/21 Wisconsin on Nov. 8 (86-75), playing unbeaten and then-No. 2/3 Syracuse to a five-point decision at The Garden on Dec. 15 (68-63), falling to then-No. 8/10 Villanova on Jan. 11 (74-67), and dropping the three-point decision to the Bluejays. The Red Storm has slayed nine Top 25 giants during the Lavin Era, eight coming with the fourth-year head coach on the sidelines. Storm Tracker A Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team selection, D'Angelo Harrison became the 48th player in St. John's history to reach the 1,000-point plateau last season (eighth-fastest, 57 games). Harrison is now 14th in St. John's history with 1,445 career points, having recently passed legend Walter Berry (1,424, 1985-86) and fan favorites Lavor Postell (1,427, 1997-2000) and Anthony Glover (1,434, 2000-03). He currently ranks third in the BIG EAST, and tied for 78th nationally, at 18.3 points per game. Harrison, who shoots 85.7 percent at the free throw line, is fourth among BIG EAST leaders and his 2.0 3-point field goals per game are tied for seventh. The Dec. 23 BIG EAST Player of the Week and 11-time BIG EAST weekly honoree is SJU's all-time career 3-point leader with a record of 180. The 2013 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and a 2013-14 Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team selection, sophomore JaKarr Sampson averages 12.7 ppg (18th in the league) and is the Red Storm's leader in rebounding (6.3 rpg, 8th in the BIG EAST). His season field goal percentage of .496 is seventh among all BIG EAST players. He is shooting 59.6 percent (34-of-57) from the floor in the past five games, while averaging 15.4 points and 5.8 rebounds. Lone freshman Rysheed Jordan, the 2013-14 BIG EAST Preseason Rookie of the Year and Jan. 27 Rookie of the Week, is averaging 8.2 points and leading the squad in assists with 65 (3.1 per game, 13th in the BIG EAST; 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio, T-10th). In BIG EAST play, those numbers have surged to 10.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.3 offensive rebounds, 3.5 assists and 27.9 minutes per contest. Motor City junior Sir'Dominic Pointer has earned the nickname "Costco" from Lavin for his propensity to provide whatever the team needs, and is averaging 6.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks. The Dec. 9 BIG EAST Honor Roll member currently paces the squad in thefts (32, 5th in the BIG EAST). A game-changing shotblocker, 6-9 Chris Obekpa -- the BIG EAST and National Defensive Player of the Year candidate with the 7-5 wingspan -- is the BIG EAST leader and ranks seventh in the nation in rejections with a 3.5 blocks per game average. Last season, Obekpa paced the nation with 4.03 bpg, established a new single-season St. John's and BIG EAST freshman mark with 133 rejections, and swatted a school-record 11 shots in the victory vs. Fordham (Dec. 8, 2012). Obekpa's four blocks at Xavier (Dec. 31) made him St. John's all-time leader, passing former record-holder Robert Werdann (188, 1989-92), and Obekpa now totals 213 rejections for his career. This season he averages 3.7 points in addition to 4.9 rebounds (T-21st in the BIG EAST). Windy City guard Phil Greene IV is scoring at a 7.9 ppg clip and showing his ability as a dynamic playmaker after recovering from offseason hip surgery. The Nov. 25 BIG EAST Honor Roll selection has committed only eight turnovers in 520 minutes in 2013-14, an average of one per 65.0 minutes. Senior Orlando Sanchez -- whose story of perseverance over seemingly insurmountable obstacles was chronicled by Dana O'Neil of ESPN.com last season -- was granted one year of eligibility from the NCAA and is averaging 7.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.3 apg and 1.2 bpg. Over the last seven games, the 6-9 highly-skilled forward is averaging 7.6 points on 47.7 percent shooting to go along with 5.1 rebounds and 0.7 assists. Junior guard Jamal Branch has played in all 23 games, starting four. He is averaging 4.4 points on 47.4 percent field goals and 2.2 assists in the past five contests, including an eight-assist, zero-turnover day at Butler (Jan. 25). Harvard transfer Max Hooper -- who scored 31 points via 10 3-pointers in a SJU game in Rome, Italy, this summer -- is 17-of-40 (.425) from distance over his last 16 games. Graduate forward God'sgift Achiuwa (2.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg) provides depth in the post. Marc-Antoine Bourgault (4-of-5 3FGs over his last six appearances) is another SJU deep threat. Felix Balamou (1.0 ppg, 0.8 rpg) is a slashing scorer and athletic defender.
SUNDAY NIGHT SHOWDOWN: St. John's Meets No. 12/12 Creighton At MSG
Red Storm Sports | Feb 8