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Hofstra, St. John’s meet for first time since 2009

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A lot has changed for St. John’s since the arrival of Rick Pitino in March — including the Red Storm’s willingness to play Hofstra.

A local rivalry will resume on Saturday afternoon when St. John’s is slated to play Hofstra in Elmont, N.Y.

Both teams are returning from a lengthy Christmas break. St. John’s hasn’t played since Dec. 23, when the visiting Red Storm squandered an eight-point, second-half lead in a 69-65 loss against then-No. 5 UConn. Hofstra finished its pre-holiday schedule on Dec. 21 with a 74-56 setback at UNLV.

Despite the loss, St. John’s (8-4) continued its strong play — especially on defense — against UConn, which shot 42.9 percent overall and 27.8 percent from 3-point land (5 of 18).

“We had this game, we should’ve won it, but we are growing,” Pitino said following the loss to the Huskies. “Three weeks ago, (UConn) would’ve won by 25 today.”

Joel Soriano leads the Red Storm with 17.7 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.

Hofstra (7-5) continued a road-heavy December against UNLV, which led 36-24 at the half before the Pride exited the locker room on a 16-2 run to take their lone lead with 15:26 left. But the visitors missed six of their next eight shots, a span in which they committed three turnovers.

“We had a couple bad possessions where we missed some wide-open shots, then we had some costly turnovers in that time frame, kind of cost us the game,” Hofstra coach Speedy Claxton said.

Tyler Thomas is averaging 22.1 points per game for Hofstra, which was picked to finish fourth in the 14-team Coastal Athletic Conference after winning the regular season title last year and upsetting Rutgers in the first round of the NIT.

The game Saturday will be the first between the New York-area schools since Dec. 20, 2009, when St. John’s earned a 72-60 victory at Madison Square Garden.

The Pride will be the fourth local non-conference foe for the Red Storm, who earlier beat Stony Brook, Sacred Heart and Fordham.

“That’s a great thing, to play Hofstra, to play Fordham, play those type teams,” Pitino said. “Look, when you play Iona, you play Fordham, you can lose to those teams. They’re every bit as good. We know that. But that’s OK. We want to play good teams.”

–Field Level Media

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