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Skidding Butler desperate to right ship vs. St. John’s

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Butler will try to end a five-game skid when it hosts St. John’s on Tuesday night in Indianapolis.

The Bulldogs (11-13, 3-10 Big East) haven’t won since a 79-71 victory against Villanova on Jan. 13.

During the recent skid, Butler has struggled offensively and failed to cross the 60-point threshold, including in a 60-52 loss to then-No. 14 Marquette.

“We turned the ball over 19 times and shot (38) percent and still had a chance,” Butler coach Thad Matta said after the loss. “They gave us a haymaker at the start … crazy things happen to this team.”

St. John’s (14-10, 4-9) is coming off a pair of losses to Seton Hall and Xavier. In both games the Red Storm allowed at least 80 points, including Saturday’s 96-71 loss to Xavier.

“(Xavier) did a lot of things well,” St. John’s coach Mike Anderson said. “Defensively, I thought we were a step slow in our rotation and getting to spots where we needed to be.”

St. John’s won the first meeting between the teams on Jan. 10, when Joel Soriano had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds in a 77-61 victory.

Soriano is leading the Red Storm in scoring this year, averaging 15.5 points per game and he’s also averaging 12 rebounds per contest. David Jones is the only other St. John’s player scoring in double figures with 12.7 points per game.

Jayden Taylor leads four Butler players in double figures, averaging 12 per game. Chuck Harris (11.7), Manny Bates (11.5) and Simas Lukosius (11.5) are the others in double-digit territory.

Taylor and Lukosius recently combined for 34 points in Butler’s loss to Marquette.

For both teams it’s a big game if they want any chance of a February run into the top five of the Big East standings before the postseason tournament in New York. The top five teams get a bye into the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.

Entering Tuesday, St. John’s was four games behind Seton Hall for the No. 5 spot with seven conference games remaining. Butler is five games back, and a loss on Tuesday to St. John’s would almost assuredly kill any chances of getting a first-round bye.

–Field Level Media

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