The early returns for St. John’s and Nebraska show a pair of unbeaten teams getting production from key transfers as the schools attempt to put together complete performances.
Those forces converge in New York on Thursday night when St. John’s hosts Nebraska as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games.
St. John’s (3-0) is seeking a 4-0 start for the first time since opening 12-0 in 2018-19 during Chris Mullin’s final season coaching the school. The Red Storm are unbeaten after blowing out Merrimack and pulling away in the second half for double-digit wins over Lafayette and Central Connecticut State.
The last two wins were remarkably similar for the Red Storm.
On Saturday, they led by two at halftime before recording an 83-68 win over the Leopards, and Tuesday they held a four-point lead at intermission before recording a 91-74 victory over the Blue Devils. A.J. Storr scored 13 of his 16 points after halftime against the Central Connecticut State and David Jones totaled 15 points and nine rebounds, marking the third straight time the DePaul transfer reached double figures.
“Obviously, they’re coming to our place and we have to be prepared,” St John’s coach Mike Anderson said of the Cornhuskers. “They are going to bring a team that can shoot the basketball. They have size and guard play.”
One guard Anderson is referring to is Sam Griesel, a transfer from North Dakota State who as averaging 20 points on 59.1 percent shooting from the field for Nebraska (2-0).
The Cornhuskers began the season with a 13-point win over Maine on Nov. 7 before downing Omaha 75-61 on Thursday. C.J. Wilcher scored a career-best 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting against the Mavericks.
Another aspect of Nebraska’s first 2-0 start since 2018-19 is its effectiveness inside. Through the first two games, the Cornhuskers have scored 76 points in the paint while shooting 55.4 percent inside the 3-point line.
“I thought the physicality that our team played with was the thing that I’m most happy with,” Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said after the Maine game. “You have to have that.”
The schools are meeting for the second time. St John’s cruised to a 79-56 win in New York in 2017.
–Field Level Media