GAME NOTES: The St. John's Red Storm will continue a four-game homestand, as they play host to the Bucknell Bison in non-conference action on Tuesday night at the Carnesecca Arena.
Steve Lavin's fourth season at the helm has produced mixed reviews thus far, as the Red Storm have split their first two games. St. John's opened the campaign against Big Ten foe Wisconsin in a neutral site battle in Sioux Falls and fell 86-75 to the Badgers. The team returned home a week later and notched its first win with a 73-57 rout of Wagner. St, John's went 17-16 a year ago, with an 8-10 mark in the Big East.
Dave Paulsen's Bison are off to a 2-1 start to the season. Bucknell opened up with a four-point road loss at Stanford (72-68), but has won two in a row since, posting double-digit wins at Penn State (90-80) and home against Saint Francis-Pa (72-50). The Bison went 28-6 last season, including a 12-2 mark in the Patriot League, culminating in an NCAA Tournament bid.
This is just the second meeting all-time between these two teams and the first in over 100 years. St. John's won the only previous matchup, a 28-18 decision in 1912.
Bucknell has been a very successful mid-major program over the last several years and early indications are that they will once again give opponents fits. After three games, the Bison are averaging 76.7 ppg, doing so on an impressive 52.1 percent shooting, which includes a 45.3-percent clip from 3-point range (24-of-53). Four of the team's five starters are averaging double figures, led by Cameron Ayers' 15.3 ppg. Steven Kaspar is a close second in the scoring column at 14.3 ppg, followed by Ben Brackney and Dom Hoffman, who are adding 11.7 and 10.0 ppg, respectively.
Bucknell shot 55.2 percent from the floor, drained eight 3-pointers and outrebounded Saint Francis 39-23 in a 22-point victory last time out. Ayers went 6-of-9 from the floor and a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc to post a game-high 16 points. Hoffman added 14 points, while Chris Hass chipped in with 10.
Junior guard D'Angelo Harrison is off to a fast start for St. John's. After pouring in 27 points in the season opener against Wisconsin, Harrison backed that up with a 25-point outburst against Wagner. Harrison was 7-of-16 from the field and a perfect 11-of-11 from the free-throw line in the win. Jakarr Sampson added 13 points in support, while Sir'Dominic Pointer finished with 10. St. John's outscored Wagner 29-6 at the free-throw line in the lopsided decision.
It's a small sample size, but has become clear that Harrison is the go-to-guy at the offensive end for St. John's netting 26.0 ppg. Still, there is room for improvement on his end. Harrison is shooting .457 from the floor, but that number is weighed down a bit from an awful 1-of-11 effort from long range (.091). Sampson adds frontcourt balance with 17.0 ppg and a team-best 7.0 rpg. Harrison isn't the only player on the roster suffering from poor shooting out on the perimeter, as the Red Storm only has two 3-pointers over the first two games combined, shooting an ugly 2-of-23 from behind the arc overall.
Bucknell has shot the ball extremely well this season, while St. John's hasn't. Still, unless the Bison stay hot for a full 40 minutes, the Red Storm's athletes will prevail in this one.
Game Date and Time