St. John’s, Providence try to climb to .500 in Big East

Amid recent struggles, St. John’s and host Providence both get an opportunity to rebuild momentum and return to .500 in conference play when they meet Tuesday night.It is a rematch of their Jan. 10 meeting, when St. John’s fended off a Providence comeback to win, 75-73.Since then, the Red Storm (14-10, 6-7 Big East) have lost six of their past eight games, including an 86-75 loss to then-No. 7 Marquette on Saturday, in which they squandered an early 15-point lead and allowed the Golden Eagles to shoot 55.9 percent from the field including 51.9 percent from 3-point range.”We’re improving offensively, but defensively, we still have the same problems,” St. John’s coach Rick Pitino said after the loss. “It is what it is, it’s the first year, we’re building a program and you got to build a program on defense.”Red Storm leading scorer Joel Soriano will look to rebound from a quiet two-point outing against Marquette. Soriano is averaging 15.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.Conversely, Daniss Jenkins has a hot hand for St. John’s. The point guard has scored in double figures in 12 of 13 Big East games this season and tallied 22 points, six rebounds and six assists against Marquette.Providence (15-9, 6-7) has lost three of its past four games entering Tuesday.In Saturday’s 75-72 loss to Butler, the Friars played short-handed and rolled out small-ball lineups due to Josh Oduro’s absence for the birth of his child. It is unclear whether the 6-foot-9 forward will be available on Tuesday.