Chris Mack

Xavier frustrates St. John’s in crucial resume game

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There hasn’t been a hotter team in Big East play since late January than St. John’s. Steve Lavin’s squad was both clicking on defense (forcing countless steals) and on offense (consistently converting from two-point range), and the team looked like an shoo-in for an NCAA tournament bid. However, it appears the Red Storm has reverted to the mean: after a loss to Villanova this weekend, Xavier (19-9, 9-7), thanks to the best game of forward Jalen Reynolds’ career, defeated the Johnnies, now 18-11 (and 8-8 in conference play).

The 6-foot-9 Reynolds was suspended by coach Chris Mack in late January, and missed two games while ‘dealing with responsibilities greater than basketball‘. Since he returned to the floor, Reynolds has been solid, but no one could have predicted his outburst tonight: the big scored 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, completely beasting SJU’s frontcourt and single-handedly dominating the Red Storm in the paint. Like the Villanova loss, though, St. John’s was within single-digits for most of the game, but could not find any sort of offensive rhythm: the team scored just .80 points per possession and converted 47 percent of their twos. In their first match-up, Xavier was content to pack the paint and let SJU try their luck from mid-range — the Red Storm has never met an 18 footer they didn’t want to take — and the Musketeers benefited again from this strategy. Phil Greene IV and D’Angelo Harrison shot a combined 2 for 16, and six of JaKarr Sampson’s 17 field goal attempts were mid-range misses.

This was an important game for both teams: St. John’s will now have to win out their remaining slate, which includes games against DePaul and Marquette, and reach at least the semifinals of the Big East tournament to get a bid for NCAAs (and even that prognostication might be too generous). What is more likely is that the Red Storm will crack the NIT field, a disappointing result for a team that faced such great expectations during the preseason. This win greatly boosted Xavier’s at-large chances: Mack’s squad likely still has to beat Seton Hall and split their upcoming Creighton and Villanova contests, but XU’s path to the postseason became a bit clearer.

WATCH LIVE: St. Bonaventure hosts Saint Louis on NBCSN

St. Bonaventure's Denzel Gregg celebrates after they defeated St. Joseph's after an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Philadelphia.  (Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP) PHIX OUT; TV OUT; MAGS OUT; NEWARK OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
(Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
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St. Bonaventure is looking to keep pace with the Atlantic 10’s elite as they host Saint Louis on Sunday afternoon. You can watch this A-10 contest live on NBCSN at 2:00 p.m. EST.

Coming off of a huge road win at Saint Joseph’s, the Bonnies (14-6, 6-3) have won two consecutive games with a winnable stretch of two more before a key conference clash with George Washington. The trio of Marcus Posley (19.1 ppg), Jaylen Adams (18.5 ppg) and Dion Wright (16.2 ppg) has been putting up a ton of points this season and slowing down that group will be the focal point of the Saint Louis defense.

The Billikens (8-13, 3-6) are coming off of two consecutive double-digit losses and will try to regroup on the road. Senior guard Ash Yacoubou paces the Saint Louis offense at 12.2 points per game and junior guard Mike Crawford (10.9 ppg) is the only other player averaging double-figures.

These two teams will play again on March 5 when the Bonnies head to the Midwest.

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Some conference matchups play out before football

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, left, reacts after scoring a basket against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Oregon defeated Utah 77-59. (AP Photo/George Frey)
(AP Photo/George Frey)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Utah at No. 16 Oregon, 4:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:

Utah suffered one of the worst losses I’ve seen in a while on Thursday night, when Brandon Taylor, for some unknown reason, decided to foul an Oregon State player firing up a half court prayer at the buzzer. The Utes, who are arguably the second-best team in the Pac-12, will look to bounce-back on Sunday against the best team in the Pac-12, No. 16 Oregon at 4:00 p.m.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. No. 12 SMU will attempt to stay atop the American standings as they travel to South Florida. While the Mustangs won the first matchup between these two teams at home by 14, they’ve dropped their last two games on the road.

2. A few more American contests are going down as East Carolina travels to UConn and Houston heads to Tulsa. The game between the Cougars and Golden Hurricane is especially interesting because both teams are sitting two games back of SMU and trying to make a move on the postseason.

3. No. 5 Iowa continues the soft part of the schedule as they face Illinois on the road. The Hawkeyes posted recent easy victories over Northwestern and Penn State and will be heavily favored again on Sunday.

4. Could be an intriguing game as No. 17 Miami travels to Georgia Tech. Although the Yellow Jackets aren’t a major contender in the ACC, they’ve been tough this season, especially at home. The Hurricanes fell victim to Georgia Tech last season while they were ranked by Marcus Georges-Hunt has to get back on track after a recent slump for that to happen.

5. There is an Atlantic 10 game that will be featured on NBCSN on Sunday: Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure (2:00 p.m.).

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.