Xavier-St. John's Preview
Xavier bounced back from an embarrassing rout to open Big East play by registering a lopsided victory its last time out.
The status of one of the 10th-ranked Musketeers' best players remains uncertain, however, as they visit St. John's Carnesecca Arena for the first time in nearly 35 years Wednesday night.
Xavier's 12-0 start was shattered by Thursday's 95-64 blowout loss at then-No. 16 Villanova, a game which also saw the Musketeers (13-1, 1-1) lose highly touted freshman point guard Edmond Sumner on an ugly collision that resulted in him being taken off on a stretcher.
Sumner, averaging 11.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists, did not suffer a concussion but reportedly won't travel to New York. He missed Xavier's 88-69 victory over then-No. 9 Butler on Saturday.
"When a man goes down, especially an important player, everybody has to be ready to step up," junior guard Myles Davis said. "That's what makes us so good. We have so much depth on our team."
Remy Abell had a career-high 21 points - more than 13 above his average - and four other Musketeers scored in double figures against the Bulldogs.
''We just wanted to play our type of game,'' guard Trevon Bluiett said. ''At Villanova, we got away from that. Our main point today was to get back to the way things were, to get back on track.''
Xavier shot 39.2 percent against the Wildcats but made 56.4 on Saturday. The Musketeers matched a season high with 10 3-pointers on 21 attempts.
St. John's (7-8, 0-2) swept the season series in 2014-15, winning 78-70 at Cincinnati on Feb. 14 and 58-57 at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 23 - returning the favor after Xavier took both meetings in 2013-14 in the newly realigned Big East.
The only other matchup at Carnesecca Arena - then known as Alumni Hall - was a 77-55 St. John's victory Nov. 27, 1981. The Musketeers faced St. John's freshman Chris Mullin, now the team's first-year coach, and he scored eight of his 10 points in the second half.
The Red Storm's current struggles have to be foreign to Mullin, who played on often-dominant teams during his college career. St. John's has lost five in a row - three of those at home - and fell for the fourth time in as many matchups with Top 25 opponents this season Saturday, 83-65 at then-No. 12 Providence.
"Overall, I liked our effort and competitiveness," Mullin told the team's official website. "... I liked the way my guys battled."
Xavier, averaging 80.6 points, faces a St. John's team that's allowing 71.7 per game, second-most in the Big East.
St. John's ranks last in the conference with 66.9 points a contest, and it's averaged 64.2 and 39.4 percent shooting during its losing streak. The Red Storm made 36.5 percent from the field and went 2 of 13 from 3-point range against the Friars.
Federico Mussini leads St. John's with 12.7 points per game but he scored eight and shot 2-of-11 over the last two games.
The Red Storm have lost 10 in a row and 19 of 20 to ranked opponents.