St. John’s basketball looking to snap losing streak against Seton Hall

St. John's basketball (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
St. John's basketball (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

St. John’s basketball is looking to snap a three game losing streak against rival Seton Hall. 

It’s the regular season finale for the St. John’s basketball team and a lot is at stake for both the Johnnies and the Seton Hall Pirates (13-11, 10-8 Big East).

St. John’s (15-10, 9-9 Big East) is looking to play its way back onto the NCAA Tournament bubble and Seton Hall needs a win to prevent itself from falling off the bubble.

The Pirates have been playing poorly since a scheduled eight day layoff in early February which started with two ugly victories over Marquette and DePaul, respectively, followed by a three game losing streak against Georgetown, Butler, and UConn.

In its last two losses to the Bulldogs and Huskies, Seton Hall has failed to crack 60 points.

Sandro Mamukelashvili, a candiate for the Big East Player of the Year, has led the Pirates all season with 17.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 45.0-percent from the field and 34.8-percent from three-point range.

Mamukelashvili set his career-high in the first matchup with the Johnnies with 32 points, leading Seton Hall to 77-68 victory.

Myles Cale and Takal Molson were the only other players to reach double-figures against St. John’s.

ALSO READ: St. John’s has everything to gain as season closes

Former Harvard standout Bryce Aiken did not play in the first meeting between the rivals as the often injured guard has been dealing with his various ailments in his first season with Seton Hall.

Aiken played in his first game since February 3 last time out against UConn and scored four points in 16 minutes.

St. John’s is also dealing with its own injury concerns with freshman star Posh Alexander, who suffered a sprained thumb against No. 8 Villanova on February 23, missed the Red Storm’s last game against Providence.

Senior point guard Rasheem Dunn, who could be playing in his final game in Carnesecca Arena, posted a season high 21 points against the Friars.

Seton Hall is riding a three game winning streak over St. John’s and the Pirates have three separate three-game winning streaks in the last 11 meetings against the Red Storm.

The last time the Pirates came to Queens was in February 21, 2015, a 85-72 win for the Johnnies.

St. John’s basketball has to continue defensive resurgence

After allowing 41 points to Providence in the first half, the Johnnies got back to its defensive roots in allowing just 26 points in the second half during its victory on Wednesday.

Sandro Mamukelashvili proved to be a massive matchup nightmare for St. John’s and expect to see multiple defenders on him including Julian Champagnie, Dylan Addae-Wusu, and Marcellus Earlington.

Since the first meeting, the emergence of Josh Roberts and Isaih Moore on the defensive end of the floor should be beneficial for the Johnnies as either player can matchup with the 7-foot-2 Ike Obiagu.

ALSO READ: St. John’s holds off Xavier, advances in Big East Tournament

The winner of this game gets a bye into the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament and the loser could be playing in the First Round on Wednesday, needing to win four games in four days for a potential championship.

A lot is on the line at Carnesecca Arena on Saturday night and all eyes in the Big East Conference will be on Queens at 7:00pm EST (Fox Sports 1).

PREDICTION: St. John’s 78, Seton Hall 68