Simon Brings St. John's to his Home in Los Angeles to play Arizona State

(Photo taken by St. John's University Athletics)

Los Angeles, CA--Tinseltown has the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers, the UCLA Bruins, and of course, LaVar Ball. But this weekend, Los Angeles has one of its own, in Justin Simon, where he brings his squad, the St. John's Red Storm (8-1) to the Staples Center to play No 16/17 Arizona State Sun Devils (7-0) in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic tomorrow.

This is the second overall match-up between the two schools, where the Johnnies defeated the Sun Devils in 2010, at the Great Alaska Shootout, with a 67-58 victory.

After Saturday's match-up versus Sacred Heart, Justin Simon was asked about the west coast trip, "I feel great. It's a west coast trip, so I have a lot of family who will get to see me play in person, rather than on TV. That's a great feeling to head home. I'm excited."

Tomorrow's match-up for the Red Storm features the first nationally ranked opponent that St. John's has faced this season, and the second and final Pac-12 opponent of the season. The other opponent was Oregon State during the Advocare Invitational on Thanksgiving.

Last week during the Hall of Fame classic's press conference, Chris Mullin spoke about playing in Los Angeles. "We're excited about it. Our association with the Hall of Fame has been great, they've been helping schedule games and have been a great resource for us." He also spoke about how his team approaches this match-up. "It's a West Coast trip, so physically we have to make sure that we get our rest and prepare accordingly by getting a good workout in before playing in L.A."

Last game, Shamorie Ponds and Justin Simon put away the Grand Canyon Lopes 68-60 in Phoenix at the BBVA Compass Valley of the Sun Shootout at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Ponds went 10-for-21 from the field, and netted 28 total points, went along with five steals, and four assists while playing the entire game. Simon had a career night in the state where he began his NCAA career, by netting 17 points and helped with rebounding by putting up 11, to secure his first career double-double.

The Red Storm have been continuing to play stellar defense by holding the last three opponents to 52.7 PPG, and forcing approximately 22.3 turnovers. But will have to make sure that the high powered Sun Devils offense is contained by the solid defenders of St. John's. The Arizona State Sun Devils average 92.7 PPG, and are netting half of the attempts from the field by netting 53.1% from the field. The Red Storm will have their hands full throughout this match-up.

Potential Starting Lineup for St. John's Red Storm

G- Shamorie Ponds

G- Justin Simon

G- Bashir Ahmed

F- Marvin Clark II

F- Tariq Owens

Looking over to the Sun Devils of Arizona State and the PAC-12 Conference, they are 7-0 for the first time since 1980-81. Four of their starters, three returning seniors, are double digit scorers in Tra Holder (22.1), Shannon Evans II (18.7) ,and Kodi Justice (15.0), and Romello White (15.7 PPG). The Sun Devils are coming off a 75-57 victory over San Francisco on Saturday at their building in Arizona.

Potential Starting Lineup for Arizona State Sun Devils

G-Kodi Justice

G- Shannon Evans II

G- Tra Holder

F- Romello White

F- Vitaliy Shibel

The Johnnies will Arizona State play tomorrow night in Hollywood at the STAPLES Center in Downtown Los Angeles at 8:00pm EST on the PAC-12 Network.

Joseph Jarzynka