St. John’s Red Storm vs. Providence Friars Pick & Prediction JANUARY 10th 2024

St. John’s may have turned its defense and its fortunes around over the past month.

The Red Storm can keep pace atop the Big East standings when they host Providence on Wednesday in New York.

St. John’s (11-4, 3-1 Big East) has won five of its past six games, including two straight in the conference, ever since an 86-80 loss to Boston College on Dec. 10 that led coach Rick Pitino to describe his team’s halfcourt defense as “abominable.”

On Saturday, the Red Storm achieved something they hadn’t since 1993 by winning a game at Villanova’s campus arena. They held the Wildcats to 38.8 percent shooting overall and 21.4 percent from 3-point range en route to the 81-71 victory.

“Now they’re all becoming a good defensive team,” Pitino said, per the New York Post. “They’re mixing up their zone with their man, they’re mixing up their presses. They’re an intelligent group.”

Joel Soriano paced St. John’s offense with 20 points plus a game-high eight rebounds. Soriano has led St. John’s in scoring in all but four games, and his nine double-doubles lead the Big East.

“A win like this is big, of course, but we’ll take it for the night, but get ready for the next one,” Soriano said postgame.

The next one is a home date with Providence (11-4, 2-2), a team that could be in big trouble without its star player.

Bryce Hopkins tore the ACL in his left knee last Wednesday against Seton Hall. The Friars dropped that game at home 61-57 before losing at Creighton 69-60 and promptly falling out of the Top 25.

“Our first time playing without Bryce, I thought our guys battled, showed great resolve,” Friars coach Kim English told the Providence Journal. “Didn’t have our best game in a lot of areas, especially defensively.”

Providence, which shoots 45.5 percent from the field this season, was held to 37 and 36.9 percent in the two losses. It was also outrebounded in both games.

Devin Carter leads the offense with 16.9 points and 3.2 assists per game. He’s also pulled down 10 rebounds in each of the past two games and averages 8.2.

The teams split their two meetings last season, each side winning at home. That was before St. John’s moved on from Mike Anderson and hired Pitino, who coached Providence from 1985-87 early in his illustrious career and led the Friars to the Final Four in his final season.

–Field Level Media

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