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ASU Basketball: St. John’s preview

Can ASU get to Tulsa?

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Seton Hall Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

St. John’s

Record: 21-12

Points scored: 77.5 (61 of 353)

Points allowed: 74.8 (264 of 353)

A few people may be more interested in a Bobby Hurley and Chris Mullin one-on-one contest.

“Chris was an all-time great. When I was growing up, (he) was one of the guys I watched in the Big East,” Hurley said. “I always thought I would end up playing in there, partially because of watching those great St. John’s teams play. I have a ton of respect for Chris as a player and what he’s been able to do to get that team to the NCAA Tournament.”

However, that won’t be taking place on Wednesday. Instead, the two coaches lead their teams into Dayton, OH for the 11-seed play-in game for the chance to battle the sixth seeded Buffalo Bulls in the West Region on Friday.

Arizona State and St. John’s faced off last season with the Sun Devils taking the win 82-70 at the Staples Center. Romello White had a game-high 22 points. The Red Storm’s team leader this season, junior guard Shamorie Ponds, had 19 points in the losing effort. Although St. Johns didn’t make the tournament last season, their roster and style may be closer to the same from that December 8 duel in Los Angeles than ASU’s.

“I think they’re a lot of the same returning guys. They’re very much a perimeter-oriented team. They’re a very free-flowing team, a team that can go on runs because they can score in volume, very explosive offensive team,” Hurley said. “They’ve got an elite player in Shamorie Ponds and [redshirt junior guard] Justin Simon is a great defensive player and [redshirt senior forward] Marvin Clark is tough. They’ve got a lot of tough kids and they can really go off the dribble. So our defense is going to have our hands full dealing with those guys.”

The Red Storm didn’t have sophomore stretch forward LJ Figueroa last season. Standing at six-foot-six, Figueroa leads St. John’s in rebounding with an average of six per game. The key question is if Figueroa will have any chance at beating out redshirt senior forward Zylan Cheatham on the boards or not.

The other important factor for ASU to make any type of run in the NCAA Tournament is the health of Remy Martin. The sophomore point guard left in the early part of ASU’s Pac-12 semifinal loss to Oregon, he later returned, but it was clear he wasn’t himself. Hurley after the game labeled Martin as 60-75% in the contest and described the injury as a groin strain.

“Remy is doing well. He was fairly limited today but that was by design because we don’t want him to have any additional setbacks,” said Hurley on Monday on Martin’s status. “He’ll have some more reps tomorrow once we get to Dayton, but I don’t think he’ll do anything live until the game. We talked yesterday at the house and again today about how he’s feeling and I have great confidence that when the ball gets thrown up on Wednesday night that he’ll be very close to 100 percent.”

ASU will take on the Red Storm at 6:10 p.m. on Wednesday with the game being televised on TruTV.