W2W4: St. John's vs. Murray State

November, 16, 2012
11/16/12
2:02
PM ET
Here are three things to watch for when St. John's (2-0) faces Murray State (2-0) on Friday at the TD Bank Arena in Charleston, S.C., in the semifinals of the Charleston Classic.

Tip-off is at 5:30 p.m., and you can watch the game exclusively via ESPN3.

NEW ADDITION: St. John's just got word Friday morning that Marco Bourgault -- one of the two juco transfers having their eligibility status reviewed by the NCAA -- has been cleared to play for the team this season. (Click here to read more.) Bourgault is on his way to Charleston.

It remains to be seen if Bourgault will arrive in time to suit up Friday, or whether Steve Lavin will put him in a game right away. Nevertheless, this is a positive development for St. John's. Lavin desperately needed another strong perimeter shooter to add to the mix, besides star guard D'Angelo Harrison. Bourgault shot 42.1 percent from beyond the arc last year, and his size (6-foot-6) will help him get his shot off at this level.

GREAT(ER) EXPECTATIONS: Speaking of positive developments, St. John's is 2-0. Yes, both wins came against mid-majors, but both Detroit and Charleston are expected to finish at or near the top of their respective conferences. And the Charleston win came on the road, in its own tournament.

It's very early, but the Red Storm -- picked to finish 10th in the Big East -- appear more dangerous than many people thought. Now, can this young team display the same energy and focus playing their third game in four days, against yet another high-quality mid-major team? We'll see.

THE RACERS: Murray State is no ordinary mid-major. The Racers went 31-2 last season, won a game in the NCAA tournament, and finished in the top 20 in both national polls. And they're picked to win the West Division of the Ohio Valley Conference again this season, despite losing three senior starters.

The biggest reason why? Isaiah Canaan. The 6-foot-1 senior point guard averaged 19 points, 3.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game last season, and shot 45.6 percent from 3-point range. He's one of the best guards in America, and will be in the discussion for national player of the year honors.

Murray State opened the season with an 88-43 win over Brescia, an NAIA school. Then, in the first round of this tournament, it blew out Auburn, 79-59. The Racers led the Tigers 45-19 at the half -- in fact, Canaan outscored the Tigers single-handedly, 20-19.

The winner will take on the winner of the other semifinal, No. 16 Baylor or Colorado, in the championship game on Sunday.
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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