Updated, 2:52 p.m., Dec. 27
The men's basketball team will face one of its stiffest tests of the season when it takes on St. John's Saturday afternoon at the Barclays Center.
Columbia (7-5) is riding a two-game winning streak and has generally played well so far this year, but the Light Blue will face a very talented Red Storm squad.
A historically successful program that last made it to the NCAA tournament in 2011, St. John's (8-3) has started strong this season. Two of its three defeats—an 86-75 loss to No. 4 Wisconsin on Nov. 8 and a 68-63 loss to No. 2 Syracuse on Dec. 15—have come against teams in the AP Top 25. The only other contest the Red Storm dropped was an 89-82 overtime decision against Penn State in a game that was also played at the Barclays Center.
Guard D'Angelo Harrison has returned to lead the Johnnies' offense after a suspension that sidelined him for the Red Storm's final six games of 2012-13. Harrison is averaging 19.9 points per game, and is coming off a 29-point performance against Youngstown State on Dec. 21 in which he broke the school record for career three-pointers.
The Lions have a couple of talented backcourt weapons of their own in sophomore guards Grant Mullins and Maodo Lo, the team's two leading scorers. Columbia has also been getting a huge boost down low from first-year forward Luke Petrasek. The 6-foot-10 Petrasek led the Light Blue with 20 points in last Saturday's 82-59 win over Fairleigh Dickinson, and now ranks fourth on the team in scoring.
The Red Storm also has a capable young big man in sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson, who ranks second on the team in scoring—averaging 12.8 points per game—and leads the team in rebounding with 6.9 boards per game.
St. John's also announced Friday that guard Rysheed Jordan—the 2013-14 Big East Conference Preseason Rookie of the Year—will return to action against the Lions. Jordan, who was ranked No. 17 in ESPN's Top 100 for the 2013 recruiting class, missed the Red Storm's last game on Dec. 21 while attending to his ill mother in Philadelphia.
Saturday's matchup, part of the second annual Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival, will be televised on Fox Sports 1. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m.