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St. John's Vs. Villanova Preview: Red Storm Look For Sixth Consecutive Victory

The St. John's basketball program (No. 23 in the AP poll and No. 25 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll) will try to continue an unprecedented Big East Conference winning streak Saturday afternoon at the No. 15/14 Villanova Wildcats in Philadelphia, PA (2 p.m. on ESPN). The Red Storm (18-9, 10-5 Big East) are currently riding a five-game conference winning streak and sit in a tie for fourth place in the Big East standings with the Louisville Cardinals. The top-four teams in the conference earn a two-round bye in the upcoming 16-team Big East Tournament, March 8-12. The next four teams earn a one-round bye, while the rest of the remaining eight squads play first-round contests on Tuesday, March 8.

The performance of senior point guard Dwight Hardy, who Monday earned his second straight Big East Player Of The Week honor, his third of the year, is the main reason for the Red Storm's resurgence. During the last five games, Hardy has averaged 23.8 points per game, including a last-second 2-point bucket that beat No. 6/4 Pittsburgh Panthers last Saturday. Hardy netted a game-best 21 points in a 76-51 victory over the DePaul Blue Demons Wednesday night.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2010 - Dwight Hardy 27 33.6 5.4 12.1 44.8 1.8 5.1 34.8 4.6 5.4 86.2 0.9 2.3 3.2 2.0 2.3 1.4 0.1 1.8 17.3

St. John's is also led by a number of complementary players. Senior forward Justin Brownlee is the team's second-best scorer (12.1 ppg), while senior forward D.J. Kennedy is the top rebounder (5.7 rebounds per game) and senior guard Malik Boothe is averaging a team-best 2.9 assists per game.

The Red Storm play two more games after Saturday. Next Thursday, St. John's travels to the Seton Hall Pirates (7 p.m.) and then close out its regular season next Saturday, March 5, by hosting the South Floirda Bulls (8 p.m.).

For the Wildcats (21-7, 9-6), they're currently tied for sixth place in the standings with the Cincinnati Bearcats, but need a win Saturday because next week 'Nova finishes its regular season with two brutal road games (No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Monday, and Pittsburgh, Saturday, March 5).

On Monday, 'Nova lost to the visiting Syracuse Orange, 69-64. It was the third floss for the Wildcats in their last five games. Senior guard Corey Stokes, the team's second-best scorer, netted a game-best 24 points, including five 3-pointers.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2010 - Corey Stokes 25 32.8 4.5 10.4 43.2 2.9 7.0 42.0 3.1 3.4 90.6 0.4 3.0 3.4 1.4 1.6 0.9 0.2 2.2 15.0

Senior point guard Corey Fisher, who is a finalist for The Bob Cousy Award, is 'Nova's top scorer (16.0 ppg) and passer (5.0 apg). Currently, the Wildcats are ranked sixth in the conference in scoring (73.4 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (38.9 per game).