Having won nine of their last ten games entering Saturday’s contest at No. 9 Villanova, St. John’s has been one of the hotter bubble teams in the country. A win over the Wildcats would further cement St. John’s status as a team charging towards an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. And given their 0-5 start to Big East play, the fact that the Red Storm is in this position is a testament to the work done by Lavin and his players.
Unfortunately for St. John’s they produced their second-worst shooting performance of the season at Wells Fargo Center, shooting just 32.2% from the field in a 57-54 loss to the Wildcats. But even with the poor shooting the Red Storm had chances to either tie or take the lead in the final minute, but two violations (a travel by Phil Greene IV and a lane violation by Rysheed Jordan) resulted in lost opportunities.
Leading scorer D’Angelo Harrison finished the game with 15 points but he needed 15 shot attempts, making just four. But based upon the team’s shooting it’s clear that he wasn’t the only player to struggle offensively. Add in the fact that shot blocker Chris Obekpa, back after missing the Butler game with a sprained ankle, was ineffective (one point, two rebounds and two blocks) in 24 minutes of action and it’s clear why the Red Storm had a tough time getting over the hump.
As a result of these issues St. John’s missed out not only on a quality win, but also the opportunity to grab sole possession of third place in the Big East. And with the middle of the Big East loaded with teams hoping to claw their way into the field of 68, St. John’s didn’t take advantage of the chance to set themselves apart from the pack.
Offense was an issue for both teams, with Villanova making just 39.2% of its shots on the afternoon. The one player who didn’t seem to have as much of an issue in this physical contest was Villanova’s Darrun Hilliard, who scored a game-high 18 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field. The Wildcats did outscore the Red Storm by 18 points from beyond the arc (27-9), but St. John’s was able to remain competitive due to their scoring 20 points off of 15 Villanova turnovers.
St. John’s will play two of its final three games at home, with Xavier and DePaul visiting before the Red Storm finish the regular season at Marquette. Win all three and the Red Storm could be in a position where one win at the Big East tournament would be enough to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament. But that will be a tough task, with both Xavier and Marquette looking to do the same.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) Duke and Cincinnati, 2016 NCAA Tournament teams, highlight the eight-team field for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.
The participants for the Nov. 19-20 event were announced Wednesday.
Also in the field are Rhode Island, Penn State, Grand Canyon, Albany, Marist and Brown.
The teams, split into two four-team brackets, will play two doubleheaders at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Duke, Cincinnati, Penn State and Rhode Island will meet in the Naismith Bracket, while the others will play in the Springfield Bracket.
The teams will play two early round games at campus sites from Nov. 11 through Nov. 16.
Brandone Francis-Ramirez is transferring out of the Florida program, the school announced on Wednesday.
A former top 40 recruit, Francis-Ramirez had his two seasons in Gainesville ruined by an academic issues and a loss of confidence. He was academically ineligible in 2014-15, practicing with the team during the second semester. He was granted a redshirt for the year, but he struggled to find any kind of a rhythm this past season. There was a two-month stretch in the middle of the year where he shot 6-for-58 from the floor and 2-for-31 from three.
On the season, he shot 20.2 percent from the floor and 16.9 percent from three.
“I want it to work out for him,” Gators coach Mike White said in a release. “We really appreciate what Brandone did here and wish him the best.”
The forgotten star of the national title game underwent an arthroscopic on his left knee on Wednesday.
Phil Booth, who scored a season-high 20 points in the 2016 National Title game, will be a junior next season and one of the guys called upon to help replace Ryan Arcidiacono, who graduated. He should be ready to go by the middle of the summer; according to a statement put out by the program, Booth will need 6-to-8 weeks to heal.
“Phil is as mentally tough a young man as we have had at Villanova,” head coach Jay Wright said in the release. “He continually impresses our coaching staff with his outstanding attitude. Phil will attack this recovery challenge with great determination, as he does everything in life.”
Booth averaged 7.0 points and 2.2 assists this past season.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has announced that sophomore forward Alexis Jennings will transfer, the seventh Wildcat to leave the program since last fall.
Jennings’ departure comes a week after Mitchell publicly addressed the mass exodus of players and assistant coaches and stressed the need for building stability. Jennings figured to be part of that process and the coach said in a release Wednesday night that “it saddens us that Alexis did not see a path for her at Kentucky. … She felt it was in her best interest to finish her career elsewhere and we owe her that opportunity.”
The 6-foot-2 Jennings started 18 of 33 games last season and averaged 10 points and 7.1 rebounds.
Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.
The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.
Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.
DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.