St. John’s vs Arizona State Preview and Prediction
St. John’s vs Arizona State Preview
The 2017 Basketball Hall of Fame Classic triple-header tips off with a cross-country matchup between No. 16 Arizona State and St. John’s on Friday at Staples Center.
This matchup has Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley re-living his younger days…
“In the ’80s, it was such a great time to watch Big East basketball: Pearl Washington at Syracuse, Patrick Ewing at Georgetown, Chris Mullin, Mark Jackson at St. John’s,” Hurley said. “St. John’s was always a program that I followed.”
Mullin is now the head coach at his alma mater, working to restore one of the defining traits of those great 1980s Big East Conference teams. The Red Storm (8-1) play an aggressive, stifling brand of defense that provides an intriguing countering to the explosive offensive style powering undefeated Arizona State (7-0).
St. John’s heads to Los Angeles fresh off a 68-60 win Tuesday against Grand Canyon in Phoenix, in which the Red Storm held the Antelopes to just 30.3 percent shooting from the floor and forced 21 turnovers.
The Red Storm are ranked 20th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency per KenPom.com metrics, and third in turnover-creation percentage. Their 60-point-per-game yield is 32.7 points less than Arizona State’s cumulative scoring average.
“Certainly, they’re going to test the success we’ve had on offense this year,” Hurley said. “They’re, in my opinion, an elite defensive team. Chris Mullin has done a remarkable job to get those guys to play with the activity they have on a consistent basis.”
Key Player for St. John’s
Shamorie Ponds–the sophomore guard is averaging 20.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. He is literally the lifeblood of the Red Storm, both offensively and defensively. He is an elite perimeter defender and will look to slow down the Sun Devils backcourt. Ponds is averaging 2.3 steals per contest.
Key Player for Arizona State
Tra Holder–the senior guard is the Shamorie Ponds version for the Sun Devils. Holder averages 22.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. He is shooting 50 percent from the field, 48 percent from beyond the arc and 86 percent from the charity stripe. Holder has increased his point total, rebounds, assists and shooting percentage every year he has been on campus.
Keeping pace with the Sun Devils will require the Red Storm putting together a more consistent offensive performance than its last outing. Despite Ponds’ 28 points, St. John’s endured a long scoring droughts against Grand Canyon.
The Red Storm played without guard Marcus LoVett, who Mullin said following the Grand Canyon game gives St. John’s an especially potent perimeter look.
“When we have Marcus available, we have three guards who are really, really dangerous,” Mullin said. “(LoVett, Ponds and Simon) are also different types of guards with different skill sets.”
This will be a backcourt dominated game with both teams having a plethora of talented guards available. Tra Holder and Shamorie Ponds are playing otu of this world right now, but in this matchup I’ll take the senior (Holder) to outplay the sophomore (Ponds).
LINE: Arizona State -5
Arizona State 83 St. John’s 70