St. John’s basketball is looking to carry its positive momentum in its home return.
After defeating No. 23 UConn in Storrs on Monday, the Red Storm (8-7, 3-6 Big East) were slated to be off for ten days until it faces DePaul on Wednesday.
Banged-up freshman guard Posh Alexander wanted to return to the floor as soon as possible and Anderson knew it so his team found an opponent who also needs to fill games and was in the midst of a long pause, to no fault of its own.
Utah Valley (5-5, 3-0 WAC) will now come to Queens on Saturday afternoon as the Wolverines look for its signature victory on the season.
Led by head coach Mark Madsen, Utah Valley has dropped non-conference games against BYU, a program that defeated the Red Storm this season, and Utah while its matchup against Stanford was canceled.
The Wolverines were pegged to finish 7th in the Western Athletic Conference Preseason Men’s Basketball Coaches’ Poll but have raced out to a perfect start in league play despite seeing a handful of postponements.
Its most recent game came in a victory against Seattle University and the Wolverines have won its last three contests, following a four game losing streak.
St. John’s basketball already sees matchup problem
A major matchup problem awaits the Johnnies with the nation’s leading rebounder Fardaws Aimaq who averages 17.5 points, 15.1 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game while standing at 6-foot-11, 245 pounds.
Utah Valley averages 77.8 points per game led by Jamison Overton at 18.9 points per game but only shoots 10.0-percent from three-point range.
Guard Trey Woodbury averages 15.4 points per game and is the best shooter on the Wolverines at 45.0-percent from deep, as the team only shoots 32.9-percent from beyond the arc.
St. John’s has become a much better team on the defensive end of the ball since allowing junior forward Josh Roberts to get extended minutes this season but there have been injury concerns with the Johnnies.
Posh Alexander had been dealing with back issues after hard falls in consecutive games against Marquette and Connecticut but junior guard Greg Williams Jr. only played six minutes in the win over the Huskies because of a back injury.
After throwing away some games earlier in the year that it should have won, St. John’s has a chance to get on an extended winning streak and turn around its season.
Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00pm EST (Fox Sports 1) inside Carnesecca Arena.
PREDICTION: St. John’s 83, Utah Valley 67