Villanova hosts St. John’s in key Big East tussle
(Sports Network) – The fourth-ranked Villanova Wildcats continue their quest
for the Big East regular season title as they host the St. John’s Red Storm
tonight. St. John’s has won two of its last three games, but the squad
is still a lackluster 5-9 in league play. The club has been idle for well over
a week, as it most recent contest resulted in a 58-47 triumph over Seton Hall
on February 21st. Aside from playing an outstanding opponent tonight, St.
John’s has to be concerned about its 2-7 road record. As for Villanova, it
dropped an 89-75 decision at fellow Big East power UConn on Sunday, and the
teams are now tied atop the league standings. The Wildcats had won 11
straight games prior to that setback, and they carry an 11-1 home record
into tonight’s affair. St. John’s owns a 59-40 lead in the all-time series
with Villanova, but the Wildcats have won four of the last five meetings.
St. John’s did not play well at the offensive end against Seton Hall last time
out, as the squad connected on only 33.3 percent of its field goal attempts,
including 2-of-12 from three-point range, and turned the ball over 16 times.
Fortunately, the Red Storm limited the Pirates to 28.1 percent efficiency from
the field and earned a 48-31 rebounding advantage. Leading the way in the win
was Lamont Hamilton with 19 points and 15 rebounds. The only other double-
digit scorer for the Red Storm was Eugene Lawrence with 10 points. Hamilton is
not a star by any means, but he is posting 12.5 ppg and 7.4 rpg to lead his
team in both categories. More pressure has been heaped on Hamilton since it
was learned that Daryll Hill (12.3 ppg) will miss the rest of the season due
to injury. St. John’s is scoring a lowly 59.9 ppg this season, but it is
limiting opponents to only 59.3 ppg on 39 percent shooting.
With one quick look at the box score from Sunday’s clash with UConn, it isn’t
hard to figure out why Villanova fell short. The Wildcats connected on 33.8
percent of their field goal attempts, including a 9-of-30 effort from three-
point range, and they finished with a low total of eight assists. Defensively,
they permitted the Huskies to connect on 54.5 percent of their shots from the
floor, including an 8-of-13 showing from behind the arc. Allan Ray led the way
in defeat with 19 points, but he suffered a sprained knee in the tilt and is
listed as questionable for tonight. Randy Foye pitched in 18 points for ‘Nova,
which also got 14 points from Mike Nardi and 11 boards from Will Sheridan. The
Wildcats start four guards, and the team is scoring 75.6 ppg while allowing
63.7 ppg through 25 contests. Foye paces the club with 20.2 ppg, and Ray isn’t
far behind with his 18.9 ppg. Nardi (11.7) and Kyle Lowry (11.5 ppg) add
balance to the lineup.
Villanova can’t afford a loss tonight, as it needs to keep pace with UConn
atop the league standings. With or without Ray, the Wildcats should get the
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Villanova 75, St. John’s 61