St. John’s Red Storm vs. Marquette Golden Eagles Pick & Prediction JANUARY 20th 2024

Without Rick Pitino on the sidelines, St John’s saw its offense disappear for significant stretches against Seton Hall.

Even if Pitino does return from his absence due to COVID-19, No. 17 Marquette hopes to contain St. John’s on Saturday afternoon when the teams get together at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Marquette (12-5, 3-3 Big East) is attempting to get rolling after opening league play with a 15-point loss at Providence last month and recent losses to Seton Hall and Butler. The Golden Eagles bounced back from shooting 32.9 percent in last Wednesday’s 69-62 home loss to Butler by earning an 87-74 win over visiting Villanova on Monday afternoon.

Against Villanova, the Golden Eagles scored over 85 points for the fifth time thanks to an offense which shot a season-best 58.7 percent.

“Anytime you lose a couple of games, and particularly the way we lost our last game and the way that we played on offense and shot the ball, there had to be some doubt overcome,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart said. “I thought the guys did a great job of overcoming that today.”

Tyler Kolek scored 21 points on an efficient 7-of-14 shooting performance after going 2-of-19 from the floor and being held to seven total points in the losses to Seton Hall and Butler. Kam Jones paced the Golden Eagles with 22 points and Oso Ighodaro added 18 as the duo combined to make 19 of 23 shots to help Marquette to a commanding 60-18 edge in the paint.

“Just getting to the basket, getting high-percentage shots just gets our confidence going now shooting from outside.” Marquette guard Stevie Mitchell said.

St. John’s (12-6, 4-3), which will attempt to avoid a third straight loss, is unclear if Pitino will be back. The school announced Tuesday afternoon that the Hall of Fame coach would miss that night’s game. The team was coached by associate head coach Steve Masiello in an 80-65 loss to Seton Hall, which led wire to wire.

The Red Storm missed their first 10 shots and gave up 28 straight points to turn a tie game with less than five minutes left in the first half into a blowout early in the second. St. John’s was outrebounded 49-28, its worst rebounding margin of the season.

“That team just punked us — that’s all they did,” St. John’s guard Daniss Jenkins said. “They played their game. That’s the way we should play. They played for steals, they played aggressive, they crashed the offensive glass and they know themselves on offense.”

Jenkins led the Red Storm with 17 points and Zuby Ejiofor added a career-high 13. Ejiofor, who also had a career-high five blocked shots, capitalized on extended playing time after Joel Soriano sat for the final 14 minutes.

Soriano was held to a season-low six points and four rebounds in 18 minutes for the Red Storm, who were without third-leading scorer Jordan Dingle due to an illness.

–Field Level Media

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