W2W4: St. John's vs. Duke

January, 30, 2011
Here are three things to watch in Sunday afternoon's game between St. John's (11-8, 4-5 in Big East) and No. 3 Duke (19-1, 6-1 in ACC) at Madison Square Garden.

Tip-off is at 1 p.m., and the game will air nationally on CBS.

SLOW DOWN! St. John's tried to run with Georgetown, one of the best offensive teams in the country, on Wednesday night -- and it cost them. The Red Storm could only keep up for the first 15 minutes -- after that, the Hoyas demolished them.

Duke is No. 4 in the country in points per game (85.7) and No. 20 in field goal percentage (48.1) -- St. John's can't keep up with them either. Look for Steve Lavin's crew to try to slow the pace -- passing the ball around the perimeter in the first 20-25 seconds of the shot clock, unless there is a great fast-break opportunity. If St. John's comes out pushing the pace, they are in trouble.

CLOSE OUT! St. John's must get in Duke's shooters' faces at the 3-point arc, especially Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler. Duke is No. 11 in 3-point field goals per game (9.1) and No. 16 in 3-point percentage (40.1). And the Red Storm have had trouble against 3-point shooters all season long -- currently they are ranked No. 302 in 3-point field goal defense, out of 336 D-1 schools.

CRISIS POINT: This is the final game of a brutal eight-game stretch for St. John's, facing eight straight AP Top 25 teams -- and this will be the toughest test of them all. St. John's has lost five of their past six, capped off by a brutal performance in Washington, D.C., losing by 25.

The players were rather despondent after that Georgetown loss -- let's see how their body language looks in today's game. Asking St. John's to win this one is probably too much -- but it is critical that they hang in with the Blue Devils and do not get blown out at home.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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