Sport St. John's braces for No. 1 Villanova

07:27  13 january  2018
07:27  13 january  2018 Source:   The Sports Xchange

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Following a pair of difficult Big East victories at the Wells Fargo Center, top-ranked Villanova now must venture out on the road to continue its strong play against St . John ’ s on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Johnnies maintained their no. 3 ranking in the BIG EAST standings and now trail second-seeded Georgetown by just three points. The Red Storm welcomes the No. 10/7 Hoyas to Queens on Saturday night. Andrew Withers made four saves on the evening for St . John ' s against Villanova (7-9

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 06: Head coach Chris Mullin shakes hands with Eli Cain #11 of the DePaul Blue Demons during a stopage of play against the DePaul Blue Demons during an NCAA Men's basketball game at Carnesecca Arena on January 6, 2018 in New York City.© Steven Ryan/Getty Images NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 06: Head coach Chris Mullin shakes hands with Eli Cain #11 of the DePaul Blue Demons during a stopage of play against the DePaul Blue Demons during an NCAA Men's basketball game at Carnesecca Arena on January 6, 2018 in New York City. Following a pair of difficult Big East victories at the Wells Fargo Center, top-ranked Villanova now must venture out on the road to continue its strong play against St. John's on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

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Villanova most recently defeated Marquette and No. 10 Xavier, improving to 15-1 overall and 3-1 in the Big East.

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St . John ’ s sophomore guard Marcus LoVett appears to be out for the season after a strange situation unfolded on Wednesday. Out since Nov. 4:57 pm College Basketball AP Poll: Villanova returns to No . 1 in reshuffled AP Top 25 poll January 8, 2018 1:55 pm Team of the Week: Texas Tech Red

No. 4 Villanova cruises past St . John ' s , 92-79 February 3, 2017 - A Saturday Night Clash With St . John ' s Up Next for the Wildcats February 2, 2017 - Brunson's Burst Helps Wildcats Outlast Providence 66-57 February 1 , 2017 - No. 4 Villanova holds off Providence 66-57 January 31, 2017

The Red Storm (10-7, 0-5) are scuffling a bit, but they're still quite formidable at home. They have lost five games in a row after a promising 10-2 start.

St. John's lost 69-66 against visiting Georgetown on Tuesday night and also has been dealing with the loss of injured guard Marcus LoVett, who will be out for the entire season.

"The Johnnies were off to a great start before being decimated by injuries," Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. "Now I think that they have come back around and are learning how to play without LoVett. They've lost some close games without him but have been right there at the end in a position to win. I think they are as dangerous a team as there is in our conference."

Villanova guard Phil Booth scored a career-high 21 points in an impressive 89-65 victory over Xavier on Wednesday.

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St . John ' s Falls to Villanova in BIG EAST Quarterfinals Just over 14 hours removed from recording the program's first BIG EAST Tournament win in six years, the St . John ' s men's basketball team proved unable to contain top-seeded Villanova on Thursday afternoon

St . John ' s 's Chris Obekpa (12) and Villanova 's JayVaughn Pinkston (22) fight for control of the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, in New York.

Wright said he was most impressed his team's defense throughout the game.

"That may have been one of our best defensive games against a high-quality opponent," Wright said. "I thought we had some good defensive games earlier in the schedule but we may not have had the toughest non-conference schedule. To play that well defensively against a great team like Xavier was really important for us. We still have some strides to make defensively and with our rebounding."

Villanova gave up 101 points in an eight-point loss at Butler on Dec. 30. A week later, the Wildcats ousted Marquette but still surrendered 90 points. Their defense against the Musketeers was much stingier, allowing Xavier to shoot just 24 of 58 overall and 3 of 17 from 3-point territory.

"Teams think they can score on us at any time, we took that personally from coach to the captains and all the way down and as team we thought we could do better on the defensive end," Booth said. "Practicing our defense and rebounding is what worked on coming out here. Coach knew what he had to do by doing a lot of defensive concepts in our practices and we just have to keep getting better from there."

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They’re probably not in the Nova /Xavier/Seton Hall group or the St . John ’ s /Georgetown/DePaul group wins (o Villanova has slipped from No. 7 to No. 37 in the advanced defensive metrics of Ken Po

Breaking News, Butler, Villanova . The 6-foot-10 power forward from Roseville (CA) Woodcreek High who is ranked No. 4 nationally at his position has St . John ’ s right at the top of his list and plans to visit later this summer or fall.

In the three-point loss to the Hoyas, St. John's guard Shamorie Ponds led the team with 17 points and six assists. Justin Simon scored 16 points and Marvin Clark II added 15 points and seven rebounds.

The Red Storm will need a gargantuan performance across the board to avoid going 0-6 in the league.

Villanova has won 12 straight games in the series against St. John's.

"I'm not concerned about predictions and expectations," Red Storm coach Chris Mullin told reporters following the loss to Georgetown. "Of those five (conference) games, we had those two duds at home. With those other three, if we can take those defensive efforts and match it with some offensive execution, we are going to be OK. That's exactly what I told my team. The only thing that's going to distract us or keep us down is a negative mindset. We have to be a little less careless with the ball and finish some shots.

"We're not going to try and undo what has gone on, but we just have to keep competing and keep working hard. Things will turn for us."

Related slideshow: College basketball season (provided by photo services)

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