St. John’s (8-1) at #16 Arizona State (7-0)
2017 Basketball Hall of Fame Classic
The St. John’s Red Storm will travel to the City of Angels to play in the 2017 Basketball Hall of Fame Classic against a high-flying Arizona State Sun Devils team.
The Red Storm look to recapture their success of old as former St. John’s player, and Hall of Famer himself, Chris Mullin, leads a resurgent St. John’s squad.
Arizona State is enjoying a run of recent success as well, as they are undefeated and ranked #16 in the country. The Sun Devils are -5.5-point favorites in this neutral floor contest.
The game total over-under is set at 159.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:00 PM PST from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
When you think of the Arizona State Sun Devils, one thing comes to mind, offense. The entire Sun Devil’s starting five is averaging double digits so far, this season, and the team is averaging the 4th most points per game in the nation.
They do just about everything well on the offensive side of the court. They are ranked 3rd in the country in field goal percentage and 16th in the land in three-point percentage. The Sun Devils have scored 90 or more points in all but just one of their games this season. They can really fill it up.
Leading the way for Arizona State is senior guard sensation Tra Holder. Holder is doing it all this year for the Sun Devils. He is averaging over 22 points, 6 rebounds, and five assists a game. He exploded for 35 points on near perfect 13-15 shooting against UC Davis and then followed it up with a 40-point outburst against a very good Xavier team. When Holder is on his game, the Sun Devils are close to impossible to stop.
To say the St. John’s Red Storm, have a contradicting style to Arizona State would be an understatement. The Red Storm pride themselves on defense.
While the Sun Devils entire starting lineup is averaging double digits scoring, the Red Storm’s entire starting lineup is averaging at least one steal a game. Three of that starting five, Ponds, LoVett, and Simon are all averaging more than two steals a game.
The Red Storm love to play a stifling brand of defense and force the other team into turning the ball over.
It has been a slow start to the Chris Mullin era at St. John’s as the team really struggled in his first two seasons at his alma mater. But he has the team moving in the right direction.
After winning just eight games in his first season in Queens, he ran that total up to fourteen last year, and he now has his team poised for a debut in the top twenty-five rankings if they win this game tonight.
To steal a line from Saturday Night Live, this St. John’s team feels like they are the not ready for primetime players.
They are good, and they are embodying the attitude of Chris Mullin in how they play the game, but I think they are still a year or two early. Give Mullin another year to develop that culture and I expect them to be back as a perennial top twenty-five contender, but they aren’t quite their yet.
The same can’t be said about Bobby Hurley’s Arizona State team. This team is ready for the spotlight, and they can run and gun with any team in the country.
While that St. John’s defense has been able to shut down weaker competition I don’t expect that they will be able to hang with this Sun Devil team tonight. Arizona State played another team recently that prides itself on the defensive side of the ball in Xavier, and the Sun Devils blew them out 102-86, behind 40 points from Tra Holder.
Unless St. John’s is really able to slow the pace of this game down to a crawl, I expect Arizona State to score at least 90 points and cruise to victory.
This is the ultimate matchup of contrasting styles, and something is going to have to give. This has been a long road trip for the Red Storm as they played in Arizona on Tuesday and they are a long way away from home.
It isn’t technically a home game, but this Arizona State team travels well and I expect a lot of fans to make the trip to LA to support the team.
I expect Holder to dominate, he is a risk to drop 30 points yet again and the Sun Devils will impose their style of ball on the Red Storm.
Give me the Arizona State Sun Devils -5.5 points from the Staples Center tonight!