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NCAAB: Former conference rivals meet when St. John’s faces struggling Pitt

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While former Pittsburgh standout Justin Champagnie is trying to establish himself in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors, twin brother Julian Champagnie is among the top scorers in the Big East and leading St. John’s.

Julian Champagnie and St. John’s look to put together another complete performance Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden when they conclude nonconference play by hosting former conference foe Pittsburgh.

It is the first meeting between the schools since Pitt left the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference after the 2012-13 season.

The game was scheduled last spring when both brothers tested the NBA waters. Justin was undrafted but signed a two-way contract with Toronto after averaging 18 points last season for Pitt, while Julian returned for his junior season and is second in the Big East at scoring at 20.3 points per game.

The Red Storm (8-2) are on a three-game winning streak since their 95-75 loss to then-No. 8 Kansas on Dec. 3. After struggling at times to beat Fordham and Monmouth, St. John’s took control early Sunday and cruised to an 82-64 home win over Colgate when Champagnie scored 19 points and became a 1,000-point scorer.

“We lost to Kansas by 20, so that was enough for us to say, ‘OK, we got to pick it up,'” Champagnie said. “That Kansas game gave us that incentive of, ‘we’re going to fix this, and we’re going to play the basketball that we know how to play.'”

Pittsburgh (3-7) is last in the ACC in both scoring at 60.5 point per game and in field goal percentage at 41.7 percent.

The Panthers have scored more than 63 points twice and are 1-5 in the past six games, a stretch that includes home losses to UMBC and Monmouth.

On Sunday, the Panthers followed up a 71-68 win over Colgate by shooting a season-worst 34 percent in a 56-52 loss to Monmouth. It marked the fifth time Pittsburgh shot under 40 percent and it also committed 15 turnovers, while trailing by 17 at halftime.

“We were not connected today like we have been,” Pitt coach Jeff Capel said. That’s disappointing. We had been good after losses.”

Jamarius Burton scored 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting, but the rest of the team struggled from the field, including John Hugley, who missed eight of 12 shots and totaled 14 points to go along with 13 rebounds.

–Field Level Media

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