Red Storm tangle with Aztecs in South Region

Mar 20, 2015 - 2:59 PM Charlotte, NC ( - The ninth-seeded St. John's Red Storm and the eighth-seeded San Diego State Aztecs clash in Charlotte on Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena in the second round of the NCAA Tournament's South Region.

The winner advances to take on either top-seeded Duke or 16th-seeded Robert Morris in the third round of the tournament.

St. John's is making its 29th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, bringing a 27-30 all-time tourney record to the big dance. The Red Storm are on a bit of a slide though, entering the postseason on a two-game losing streak. They will also be without center Chris Obekpa, who was suspended for two weeks prior to the selection of the field.

San Diego State earned a higher seeding in the bracket than Mountain West Conference winner Wyoming (12th seed) despite the fact that the Aztecs were defeated by the Cowboys in the league tournament, 45-43. This is the 11th tournament appearance all-time for the Aztecs, who own a 5-10 record in the national postseason.

This will be the first-ever meeting between St. John's and San Diego State on the basketball court.

St. John's went with a different look in the Big East Tournament against Providence, electing to sit Rysheed Jordan in favor of Jamal Branch. The former however, turned out to be the only effective player for the Red Storm in the 74-57 win for the Friars. Jordan netted 18 points off the bench, hitting 11-of-16 from the free-throw line with five turnovers. Phil Greene IV added nine points in the loss for the Red Storm, while Obekpa pulled down a team-best nine boards. St. John's finished the contest connecting on 31 percent of its field-goal tries.

It was a slow game for senior guard D'Angelo Harrison as well, who chimed in with seven points against Providence. Still, Harrison has shown he can be one of the best scorers in the Big East and the country when he's on his game. The guard is averaging 17.5 ppg on 41.4 percent shooting, adding in an 80 percent mark from the free-throw line. He's followed by Jordan (14.3 ppg), Sir'Dominic Pointer (13.5 ppg) and Greene (13.2 ppg), for a St. John's squad that is converting 44.1 percent of its shots for 71.2 ppg. Defensively, the Red Storm are allowing 67.6 ppg to opponents. That could spell trouble without the defensive stud Obekpa in the lineup. Obekpa has registered 94 blocked shots and 30 steals to go along with 7.0 rpg for the Red Storm. Pointer (7.6 rpg) has to be the driving force down low going forward.

St. John's might not have to worry about the loss of Obekpa if San Diego State repeats its offensive struggled from the last time the Aztecs took the floor. SDSU connected on a mere 32.6 percent shooting in the two-point loss to Wyoming, in which the sides combined to score 88 points. JJ O'Brien netted 12 points with five rebounds, and Malik Pope came off the bench to tally a team- best 13 points for the Aztecs, who hit only six shots in the entire second half against the Cowboys. Dwayne Polee II, who was sidelined earlier this season after collapsing on the court during a game, played 15 minutes for the Aztecs.

The senior Polee, who is a transfer from St. John's, missed a large portion of his final year in an SDSU uniform due to the medical setback. It's only fitting his career could be extended by at least one more game against his former team. In 18 games this season, Polee averages 7.6 ppg. He'll try and aid Winston Shepard (11.1 ppg) and Aqeel Quinn (11.1 ppg) on the offensive end for a San Diego State team that nets 61.8 ppg on 41.9 percent shooting. O'Brien chips in 10.1 ppg to round out the team's double-digit scorers this season. The Aztecs pride themselves on defense, allowing only 53.1 ppg to opponents on 37.7 percent shooting.

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