Red hot Red Storm visit Wintrust Arena on Wednesday night


DePaul coach Dave Leitao (CHARLES REX ARBOGAST / AP)

Perhaps the hottest team in America rolls into Wintrust Arena on Wednesday for an 8 p.m. bout with the DePaul Blue Demons (10-14; 3-9 Big East).

It’s not Duke, or Michigan State, or Purdue, or Villanova, or Virginia or one of the other blue-blood programs that are perennially among the best in the country.

Instead, it’s the St. John’s Red Storm (13-13; 2-11 Big East) who come to Chicago riding a three-game winning streak which included wins against then No. 4 Duke and then No. 1 Villanova and a road win against Marquette. These wins came after the Red Storm started Big East Conference play with an 0-11 record.

Sophomore guard Shamorie Ponds has been unreal for St. John’s this season, averaging 21.4 points per game (second in the conference) and 4.6 assists per game (tied fifth in the conference). During the Red Storm’s current winning streak, he’s brought those numbers to an even higher level averaging 34.3 points on 54.5 percent from the field and 3.3 assists per game.

In the first matchup between the two teams on Jan. 6, the Blue Demons held Ponds to 15 points on an inefficient 7-for-24 from the field (29.1 percent) as DePaul rolled 91-74 in Queens, N.Y. Ponds has been a high volume, lower efficiency scorer all season as evidenced by his 41.8 percent shooting percentage and 25.2 percent 3-point field goal percentage on over six attempts per game. He’s had 12 games this season where he’s shot the ball below 40 percent from the field.

It’s all about the guard play for St. John’s as the Red Storm usually plays with three guards in their starting lineup.

Guards Bashir Ahmed and Justin Simon contribute 11.7 and 11.4 points per game respectively. Simon also averages 7.4 rebounds per game which is the sixth highest total in the Big East and is the top mark among guards. Junior  forward Marvin Clark averages 11.2 points per game and shoots at a 41.2 percent clip from 3-point land.

Wednesday evening is the 41st all-time meeting between the two teams with the Red Storm holding a 22-18 advantage in the series. Although DePaul won the first meeting this season, St. John’s has won four of the previous six matchups against DePaul. The Blue Demons and the Red Storm are ninth and tenth in the Big East standings respectively, and a win for St. John’s would give them three conference wins which would tie them with DePaul in the standings in the win column.

The Blue Demons concluded a trying week last week with a commanding 80-63 win against the Providence Friars on Saturday in Rhode Island. DePaul shot a season-high 60.4 percent from the field in the game to grab a commanding early lead, and stun a talented Friars squad at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

Big fellow Marin Maric was the unsung hero last week for the Blue Demons as he averaged 20.5 points and 7.5 rebounds which earned him a Big East Honor Roll designation for the second time this season. Maric needs 26 points for 1,300 in his career and 13 rebounds for 800 in his career. Blue Demon star Max Strus currently resides at No. 8 on the Blue Demons single-season 3-point field goal list with 66 triples this season. He needs 20 more 3-point field goals to set a new DePaul single-season record in this category

The Blue Demons are 2-1 in the second game they’ve faced an opponent this season.

CBS Sports Network will carry the game with Carter Blackburn (play-by-play) and Pete Gillen (analyst) on the mic. Zach Zaidman and Laurence Holmes will have the call on the radio at WIND 560 AM.