Wednesday, January 30, 2013
W2W4: St. John's vs. DePaul
By Kieran Darcy
Here are three things to watch for when St. John's (13-7, 5-3 Big East) plays DePaul (10-9, 1-5 Big East) on Wednesday at Carnesecca Arena.
Tip-off is at 9 p.m., and you can watch the game on ESPNU.
ON THE RISE: With a win over 14th-place DePaul, St. John's will have sole possession of third place in the Big East, midway through conference play. Pretty darn good for a team picked to finish 10th at the beginning of the season. And just imagine if the Red Storm had pulled out that two-point loss to Rutgers on Jan. 9, or that overtime loss at Villanova on Jan. 2.
In the latest edition of Bracketology, released Monday, St. John's was added to the bubble, listed among the first four teams out of the field. Votes in the national polls could be coming soon, too.
St. John's won at DePaul, 71-62, on Jan. 19. Can the Red Storm take care of business again, in their second-to-last game of the season at Carnesecca? We'll find out.
BRANCHING OUT:Jamal Branch scored a season-high 18 points in the win over DePaul 11 days ago. He has been in double figures three times in eight games since he became eligible in late December. But he has scored just 13 points combined in the team's last two games, taking just nine shots from the field.
D'Angelo Harrison (19.8 ppg) and Jakarr Sampson (14.3 ppg) are a great 1-2 scoring punch. But the Red Storm could use a third reliable scorer. Branch (8.8 ppg) is shooting at a high percentage -- 55.6 percent from the field. He should be more aggressive in looking for opportunities to score.
THE BLUE DEMONS: DePaul has lost four in a row, and six of seven; its lone conference win came at Providence on Jan. 5. The Blue Demons have played just one game since losing to St. John's on Jan. 19 -- a 93-55 drubbing at Pittsburgh last Saturday.
Six-foot-eight junior forward Cleveland Melvin leads the team in scoring (17.1 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg), while 6-4 junior guard Brandon Young is second in scoring (16.5 ppg) and tops in assists (4.3 apg).
The Blue Demons are 54th in Division I in scoring offense (73.2 ppg), but 279th (out of 345) in scoring defense (71 ppg). Despite being a poor defensive team overall, they are 17th in the country in steals, collecting 9.5 per game.