Thursday, May 19, 2011

St. John's To Face Kentucky in Big East/SEC Challenge

Two of the winning est college basketball programs will hook-up next season when St. John's faces Kentucky in the Big East/SEC Challenge.  The game will be played at Rupp Arena in early December.

The Big East/SEC Challenge, which was expanded last year, will pit the Red Storm-- with the nation's #2 rated recruiting class--against a tournament-tested Wildcats squad which lost 56-55 to Connecticut in the 2011 Final Four semi-finals.

Both schools have two of the most storied programs in college basketball history.  Kentucky is the all-time NCAA men's basketball wins leader with 2052 victories and a .760 winning percentage, while St. John's is #7 on the list with 1724 wins and a .658 percentage.

Next season, St. John's will field it's youngest team in 104 years and one of the youngest in NCAA history.  Nine freshmen will be on the roster of the 2011-12 team after four senior starters from last year's team completed their eligibility.

Last year, the senior-heavy Johnnies compiled a 21-12 record and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002. 

Head coach Steve Lavin, who is battling prostate cancer, hasn't let the disease hinder his piling up of top players.  Yesterday it was announced that Arizona guard Lamont "MoMo" Jones will transfer to St. John's and could be eligible to play next season under NCAA hardship rules.

MoMo, the  Harlem product, will join the rest of the highly-touted Red Storm class including God's Gift Achiuwa, Sir' Dominic Pointer and Nurideen Lindsay--and all will be potential nominees for the 2012 All-Name team.

Kentucky will be without Brandon Knight, their star guard, who opted for the NBA.  The Wildcats will be led by Queens, NY guard Doran Lamb and a squad of experienced players.

Lavin vs. John Calipari, call it the Big East/SEC Hair Gel Challenge.

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