DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 27th, 11:59 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sullivan Arena (8,700) -- Anchorage, Alaska. Television: MASN. Home Record: St. John's 1-0, Arizona State 1-0. Away Record: St. John's 0-1, Arizona State 0-1. Neutral Record: St. John's 2-0, Arizona State 2-0. Conference Record: St. John's 0-0, Arizona State 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout features a matchup between the St. John's Red Storm and the Arizona State Sun Devils.
St. John's is under the guidance of first-year head coach Steve Lavin, who has assembled an impressive staff in an attempt to guide the Red Storm out of Big East Conference obscurity. Although the season opener ended in a five-point road loss to Saint Mary's-CA, the three games since have all resulted in wins. After needing overtime to beat Ball State on Thursday, St. John's was completely dominant yesterday, besting Drake in an 82-39 final.
Arizona State opened the season with a 14-point loss to New Mexico on the road. Fortunately for the Sun Devils, they have won all three of the games that they have played since that setback, mirroring the start of the Red Storm. After cruising past Houston Baptist on Thursday to open play at this event, ASU had its hands full with Weber State yesterday. Fortunately, a late bucket led the club to a 59-58 triumph.
SJU and ASU have never met on the hardwood.
There is not a star player on the roster for St. John's, so coach Lavin must rely on contributions from several individuals. Justin Brownlee currently leads SJU in scoring with 12.3 ppg, as he is shooting 65.5 percent from the floor. D.J. Kennedy checks in with 12.0 ppg, and Dwight Hardy provides 10.3 ppg. The Red Storm are generating 77.5 ppg while limiting opponents to 63.5 ppg on 39.3 percent shooting from the field. In the 43-point romp over Drake yesterday, Brownlee netted 13 points to lead a tremendously balanced offensive attack. The Red Storm made good on 57.7 percent of their field goal attempts while limiting their overmatched opponents to 26.5 percent shooting. St. John's also finished with an 18-8 edge in points from the foul line and a 38-24 rebounding advantage while forcing 19 turnovers.
The Sun Devils put forth a tremendous defensive performance in the victory over Weber State yesterday, limiting the Wildcats to 34 percent shooting from the field. ASU hit 9-of-20 three-point attempts, another obvious contributing factor in the win. Trent Lockett was tremendous, as he shot 9-of-12 from the floor and finished with 24 points, including the game-winning basket with 8.4 seconds remaining. Jamelle McMillan added 16 points on the strength of a 4- of-6 effort from three-point range, and Rihards Kuksiks pitched in 11 points. Through four outings, Lockett is pouring in 20.8 ppg on 69.6 percent shooting from the field, and he is pulling down 7.3 rpg to go along with nearly four assists per contest. While no other player on the roster is averaging double figures in scoring, individuals such as Kyle Cain (9.3 ppg) and Jamelle McMillan (8.8 ppg) have been solid contributors for ASU, which is netting 65.8 ppg while allowing 63.8 ppg.
In a game that figures to be decided in the final minute, give a narrow edge to the Sun Devils based solely on the presence of Lockett.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona State 70, St. John's 67