St. John’s basketball: 3 keys to victory in massive Kansas showdown

St. John's basketball (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's basketball (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /
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St. John's basketball
St. John’s basketball guard Posh Alexander (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /

It will be a tall task for the St. John’s basketball team to defeat No. 8 Kansas on Friday night. 

The college basketball world turns its attention to Elmont, New York on Friday night as the St. John’s basketball team host the No. 8 Kansas Jayhawks (5-1) in the biggest game of the non-conference schedule for the Johnnies (5-1).

St. John’s dropped its last major non-Big East game on the road against Indiana by two points but will be looking for its resume building victory at the newly opened UBS Arena in the first ever basketball game played in the venue.

Kansas is also coming off a recent loss in heartbreaking fashion against Dayton in Orlando on an incredible buzzer beater.

The Jayhawks had been the No. 4 ranked team in the country prior to the loss and its 2-1 weekend at the ESPN Events Invitational.

Including Friday night, Kansas has yet to play a ranked team this season, although Michigan State has climbed to No. 22 after it fell to the Jayhawks on opening night in Madison Square Garden.

St. John’s will be just the second power conference team to play Kansas this season with the Spartans being the other.

St. John’s basketball defense must be at peak form

After skidding by three inferior opponents, St. John’s will need its defense to be at its best against Kansas.

The Jayhawks average 83.8 points per game while shooting 52.1-percent from the floor and 36.6-percent from 3-point range.

St. John’s has yet to allow an opponent to surpass 80 points this season but Bill Self’s team will present an entirely new challenge behind leading scorer Ochai Agbaji, who is posting 22.5 points per contest.

Head coach Mike Anderson could have reserve freshman guard Rafael Pinzon back as he has missed the last three games with a fractured left ring finger.