Getting a healthy Kyron Cartwright back will be critical for Providence when its plays its Big East opener Thursday at St. John’s. Cartwright was hobbled by an ankle injury in a loss to Houston before missing the Friars’ victory over Sacred Heart and is considered day-to-day for the 111th meeting with the Red Storm.
Cartwright entered December averaging 12.3 points and 7.0 assists, but has mustered only 3.4 points and 3.8 assists per game in the five games he has played this month. Alpha Diallo, the team’s second-leading scorer, has also been dealing with an ankle injury and has missed three of the last four games while also playing sparingly against Houston. The Friars will need all hands on deck to deal with a much-improved St. John’s team, which boasts five players in double figures, led by Shamorie Ponds. The sophomore is averaging 20.4 points, good for third in the Big East, despite shooting less 39.6 percent from the field and 21.1 from deep.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN
ABOUT PROVIDENCE (9-4): The injuries to Cartwright and Diallo have thrust Isaiah Jackson into a starting role and the junior as acquitted himself well. The 6-6 guard has averaged 32.7 minutes, 13.3 points and 5.3 rebounds over the past three games and added six assists in last week’s win over Sacred Heart. “I feel like I just need to play my role,” Jackson, a native of Gainesville, Fla., told the media. “Just go out and do what I do to the best of my ability.”
ABOUT ST. JOHN’S (10-2): Marcus LoVett, who scored in double figures in six of the first seven games, has a knee injury that has kept him out of the last five games for the Red Storm. Bashir Ahmed, who has scored in double figures in 35 of 45 career games, scored in double digits three times in the last five games and had a pair of 10-plus rebound contests while playing extended minutes. Simon has also played more with LoVett’s injury, and had a pair of double-doubles in past five contests while just missed a triple-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists against Saint Joseph’s.
1. Providence’s Rodney Bullock averaged 27.5 points and eight rebounds last week and was named to the Big East Honor Roll for his efforts.
2. Despite losses in three of the last four meetings, the Red Storm own a 61-49 lead in the series, including 35-32 in the Big East and 33-17 at home.
3. Simon is in the top 10 in the Big East in steals, rebounds, assists, blocks and assist-to-turnover ratio for the Red Storm, who are 6-0 at home this season.
PREDICTION: St. John’s 79, Providence 71