Jamaica, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Sporting their first Top-25 ranking since 2001, the now 24th-ranked St. John's Red Storm begin a four-game homestand starting with Wednesday evening's clash with the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights.
Steve Lavin's Red Storm have already enjoyed a great deal of home cooking, playing six of their first seven games as the home team. St. John's has won six of its first seven games and enters this contest off a 69-57 road win at Syracuse last weekend. The team's lone loss on the season was a 73-66 setback to Top-10 foe Gonzaga as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Greg Herenda's second season at FDU hasn't exactly gotten off to a fast start. The Knights are sitting one game under .500 at 3-4 and have dropped three of their four road contests to date. Overall, the team has lost four of its last five games and enters this game off a 75-57 loss at Notre Dame on Saturday.
St. John's has won all 11 previous meetings with FDU. The last meeting took place in 2007, a 92-67 rout at Carnesecca Arena.
The Knights did some nice things in their loss to Notre Dame, but could not overcome a 10-point deficit at the half and ultimately fell by 18 to the Irish on their home floor. FDU was able to hold Notre Dame to its second-lowest scoring output of the season. Senior Mustafaa Jones led the way for Fairleigh Dickinson with 16 points. Freshman Marques Townes added 11 points in 20 minutes of work off the bench, while junior Xavier Harris (6 pts), grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds.
Offensive proficiency has not been a strength for FDU this season, as the team enters this game averaging a modest 65.4 ppg on just .408 shooting. In addition, the Knights are in the negative in terms of rebounding (-5.9) and turnover (-1.8) margins. Three of the five starters are averaging double figures in the scoring column, starting with Mustafaa's 15.6 ppg. Matt MacDonald and Darian Anderson aren't far behind at 13.9 and 10.1 ppg, respectively. Unfortunately, the scoring pool dries up fast after that, as Harris ranks fourth on the team in scoring at just 6.9 ppg.
The Red Storm rely heavily on the starting five this season. The team is averaging a modest 73.1 ppg, but is allowing just 62.9, while holding a +4.6 rebounding edge and averaging 7.0 blocks per game. D'Angelo Harrison may only shoot .387 from the floor, but he has team-highs of 16 3-pointers and 41 made free-throws to tally a team-best 18.4 ppg. Rysheed Jordan pours in 15.3 ppg, followed by Phil Greene IV (11.7 ppg) and Sir'Dominic Pointer (10.4 ppg). Big man Chris Obekpa isn't much of a scorer (6.7 ppg), but he is a monster inside, averaging 9.6 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game.
The Red Storm used a 17-2 run late in the game to power past Syracuse at the Carrier Dome last weekend and earn an impressive 12-point road win. Greene was instrumental in the victory, scoring 11 straight points during the run. Greene finished with 18 points, but was outdone at the offensive end by Harrison, who led all scorers with 24 points. Harrison was 6-of-12 from the floor, with four 3-pointers, while going a perfect 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. Obekpa had just five points in the win, but did grab a game-high 16 rebounds and blocked four shots.