No. 24 St. John's looks to regroup against DePaul
Following a frustrating defeat against the reigning national champion, St. John's seems ready to move on toward its next challenge.
The No. 24 Red Storm look to remain undefeated at home Saturday night when they face DePaul in a Big East contest at Queens, N.Y.
St. John's (14-2, 2-2 Big East) led by as many as 13 points in the first half and by five with a little more than four minutes to play Tuesday night at Villanova. However, the Red Storm managed just four points the rest of the way as the Wildcats came alive to rally for a 76-71 victory.
"Everybody loses," sophomore swingman LJ Figueroa told the St. John's official website. "We have to take it and focus on the next game. See what we did wrong, fix them and then come back ready."
Star junior guard Shamorie Ponds scored 23 points for St. John's, which hit half of its 28 field-goal attempts in the first half and just 36.4 percent in the second. Ponds, meanwhile, has averaged 28.7 points in three games since he was held to eight in a 76-74 loss at Seton Hall on Dec. 29.
Though the Red Storm have split their first four league games following their impressive 12-0 start, the team still feels confident considering it is two wins shy of matching last season's total.
"We've all come together," Figueroa said. "We have great leaders. (Senior) Marvin Clark. (Junior) Justin Simon. Shamorie Ponds. They're all vets, and they know how to lead us and guide us in the right direction."
That direction is back to home. Whether it be on campus or at Madison Square Garden, the Red Storm have outscored their opponents by an average margin by almost 20 points while going 9-0 in home games this season. St. John's last won its first 10 at home during the 1990-91 season.
The Red Storm won eight consecutive home games against DePaul before falling 91-74 at Queens last January.
The Blue Demons (9-5, 1-2) have dropped all three of their road games this season, but they came against quality opponents in Notre Dame, Northwestern and Villanova. DePaul, however, snapped a three-game overall losing streak with Sunday's 75-74 win over Seton Hall.
Max Strus had 21 points and was one of five players in double figures for DePaul, which shot 54.5 percent from the field. Strus, who ranks among the Big East scoring leaders averaging 18.8 points, also had five assists.
"He's kind of like our superhero," teammate Devin Gage said of Strus earlier this season.
Strus had 22 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in last season's victory at St. John's.
This marks the first time in 2018-19 that DePaul will face a Top 25 opponent. The Blue Demons' last road victory over a Top 25 team came at then-No. 24 Seton Hall on Jan. 22, 2015.
Like Strus, Ponds also rates among the top scorers in the Big East at 20.6 points per game, but he has failed to score more than 15 in each of his two homes games against the Blue Demons.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 10, 2019