St. John’s has found a collective rhythm and confidence that’s resulted in an extended stretch of success.
Meanwhile, the struggle continues for a DePaul squad that hasn’t won in nearly a month.
Aiming for an eighth win in nine contests, the Red Storm look to extend the visiting Blue Demons’ season-high losing streak to six games on Saturday night in a Big East matchup in Queens, N.Y.
Making a push for an NCAA Tournament berth, St. John’s (14-8, 8-7 in Big East) is 7-1 since losing six of eight from Dec. 11-Jan. 16. After the Red Storm’s six-game winning streak ended with an overtime-loss at Butler on Feb. 9, Big East-scoring leader Julian Champagnie (19.8 points per game) had 21 points while Posh Alexander (11.7 ppg) added 15 with nine assists and eight rebounds as they shot 51.5 percent in Tuesday’s 93-84 home victory over Xavier.
It marked the second time in three games St. John’s topped the 90-point mark. It’s shooting 51.3 percent in the last three contests.
“They are listening and going out and trying to execute the game plan,” said Red Storm coach Mike Anderson, who earned his 400th coaching victory Tuesday. “I think they are taking ownership.
“I think you see the bonding, chemistry. They love playing with each other.”
Champagnie and Alexander combined for 31 points and 12 rebounds, while Vince Cole scored a team-high 18 during St. John’s 81-68 win at DePaul on Jan. 27. The Red Storm have won the past four meetings with the Blue Demons by an average of 10.3 points — the past two by 13 apiece.
DePaul (3-10, 1-10 in Big East) has not lost by fewer than seven points during a losing streak that reached five games after Wednesday’s 60-52 setback at Seton Hall. Pauly Paulicap had 15 points with 10 rebounds Wednesday for the Blue Demons, who held a 46-42 second-half lead but scored just six points over the final 11 minutes, 43 seconds.
“We got to execute better, particularly when you get (to the) later stage of the game,” said DePaul coach Dave Leitao, whose team has shot 36.6 percent and averaged 15.0 turnovers in the past five games.
It’s uncertain if the Blue Demons will have the services of their top two scorers back for this contest. Charlie Moore (13.7 ppg) has missed the past two games with a knee injury and Javon Freeman-Liberty (13.4 ppg) sat out Wednesday while in concussion protocol.
Moore scored 21 and Freeman-Liberty had 16 against the Red Storm last month. Paulicap, meanwhile, set season highs with 16 points and 16 rebounds in that contest.
–Field Level Media