Red Storm face Golden Eagles in opening round of Big East Tournament
New York, NY (Sports Network) – The 18th-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles are
seeded sixth in the Big East Tournament field, and they will begin play at the
event by battling 11th-seeded St. John’s in Wednesday’s opening round.
Awaiting the winner is a clash with second-seeded Louisville in Thursday’s
quarterfinal round. St. John’s has won the Big East Tournament title on three
occasions, and the most recent crown was captured in 2000. The Red Storm
are a respectable 16-14 overall this season, including 7-9 in league play.
It should certainly be pointed out that St. John’s plays many of its home games
at Madison Square Garden, and the squad has been tough to beat at home this
Marquette is a relative newcomer to the Big East, and it lost its only
previous game at this event. The Golden Eagles are 23-8 overall, and they
finished 10-6 against Big East competition during the regular season, so the
club figures to be a part of the NCAA Tournament field regardless of its
play in this event.
Marquette holds a 7-5 edge in the all-time series with St. John’s, thanks
to five consecutive victories over the Red Storm.
St. John’s got some bad news this week, as senior forward Lamont Hamilton will
miss the Big East Tournament with a left knee injury. Hamilton had earned First
Team All-Big East honors on the strength of his 13.4 ppg and 6.5 rpg, and he
will be sorely missed from the lineup. He is one of only six players in the 99-
year history of the St. John’s program to rack up as many as 1,110 career
points, 650 rebounds and 100 blocked shots. In the absence of Hamilton, both
Anthony Mason (11.7 ppg) and Avery Patterson (10.6 ppg) will have to be extra
aggressive at the offensive end. St. John’s ranked 15th out of 16 Big East
teams during the regular season in scoring offense (63.7 ppg), and the club
ranks 13th in both turnover margin and offensive rebounds.
Marquette’s Dominic James is a First Team All-Big East performer who is scoring
14.9 ppg despite his 39.2 percent shooting from the floor. James is dishing out
4.9 apg and has recorded 60 steals. While James will be in action this evening,
standout teammates Jerel McNeal likely will watch from the bench because of a
thumb injury. McNeal is netting 14.7 ppg to go along with his 76 steals, and he
remains one of the most underrated players in the conference. Wesley Matthews
is averaging 12.5 ppg, and he will be counted on a bit more heavily this
evening as well. The Golden Eagles are second in the conference in both steals
and offensive rebounds.