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NCAAB: St. John’s, Butler could both be short-handed in Big East clash

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Julian Champagnie was in isolation watching on television as St. John’s struggled and ultimately lost its final nonconference game of the regular season to Pitt on Saturday.

Champagnie had tested positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated. As of Wednesday, it is unclear if the Big East’s second-leading scorer will be available Thursday night when St. John’s hosts Butler in Queens, N.Y.

The Red Storm (8-3, 1-0 Big East) are looking to stay unbeaten in league play. They were credited with a forfeit victory when Seton Hall could not provide enough available players for Monday’s originally scheduled game.

Champagnie, whose 20.3 points per game are second in the Big East behind DePaul’s Javon Freeman-Liberty, missed his first game when he tested positive Friday, a day before a 59-57 loss to Pitt.

Regardless of whether the standout junior is available, the Red Storm are looking to bounce back after falling on a last-second shot against Pitt. Even before the dramatic finish, St. John’s struggled to find any offensive rhythm without Champagnie.

“When Julian is here, he’s a great scorer for us,” St. John’s guard Posh Alexander said. “But it’s not just about him. It’s about the whole team.”

That includes Alexander, who is coming off a season-low 11 points on 5-of-14 shooting. Dylan Addae-Wusu led the Red Storm against Pitt with 12 points, while Joel Soriano added 10 points.

Butler (7-4, 0-0) is looking to rebound from a 77-48 loss to then-No. 3 Purdue on Saturday and enters its Big East opener with the league’s worst scoring offense at 63.4 points per game. The Bulldogs have been held under 70 points in their past four games and shot a dreadful 32.2 percent from the floor against Purdue.

“I thought we had some good looks that didn’t fall,” Butler coach LaVall Jordan said after his team allowed its most points of the season.

The Bulldogs were without Bryce Nze (shoulder), Bo Hodges (knee) and Chuck Harris (non-COVID-19 illness) and it is unclear if the trio will be available Thursday.

Without them, Butler is hoping to get another productive showing from Bryce Golden, who had 17 points Saturday and is averaging 15.6 points across his past five contests.

–Field Level Media

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