Pittsburgh wins to go 22-7, 11-5 in the Big East. St. John's falls to 15-13, 5-11 Big East
Another loss in the Garden. It was quiet in there. Possibly because of the snow that fell on New York City, but obviously also because the Red Storm aren't all that good. One would have thought that the Pittsburgh Panthers would travel a little better to their home away from home, Madison Square Garden, but that, too, may be weather-related.
Watching the game, it seemed like a deeper cut, a more thorough beating. But on the scoreboard and in the box score, it wasn't. Sure, St. John's couldn't execute on offense very well, shooting an effective field goal percentage of 37.9%, compared to Pittsburgh's 56.4%. And that included a 2-15 (13.3%) performance from beyond the 3-point line.
But the Red Storm managed to draw a lot of fouls (30 free throws attempted to 23); they managed to get 17 offensive rebounds (13 second chance points in all; Pitt had 8 offensive boards); and they turned the ball over less (5 times to the Panthers' 10).
That's bizarre, actually. St. John's outrebounded the Panthers, protected the ball incredibly well (giving it up on only 8.3% of possessions), and went to the free throw line 7 more times than the Panthers.
Unfortunately, St. John's missed 10 free throws. And they lose by 7. There were ways to win the game, even with the somnolent crowd, even with the team's inability to hit from outside, inside or anywhere. They might have done some good things, but it wasn't enough.
On defense, the Red Storm allowed the Panthers to shoot 61.2% inside the arc. Ashton Gibbs struggled again, but the Panthers defended. Norm Roberts said in the postgame, "obviously, we were defending good enough to keep the score down," but that's simply not true. They scored 71 points on 41 shots. I suppose he could mean that the Panthers didn't get any fast break points, but...
This has gone off the rails. The team looked dispirited, and there's only so much losing a team can take. More on that tomorrow. For now, the Keys to the Game:
Keys to the Game
Convert Missed Shots. The Red Storm did get some second chance points, but... well, there were a lot more missed shots to convert. 13 second chance points (and 20 free throws made) also underscore how bad the shooting was. C.
Stop Ashton Again (And Guard the Perimeter). Decent job stopping the scoring on the perimeter. Gibbs did score 12 points. B.
Stay Sharp. There were opportunities for the Panthers in spots; they had the game in control and took advantage of missed opportunities - bad positioning in the post on defense, Sean Evans going 1-6, at least 3 of those misses on layups. The announcer John Celestand called it out - "Evans misses another layup," and truer words were never spoken (about the game). The team didn't look aggressive or active during the game at all. D.
Turnover Battle. The Red Storm were impressive in holding on to the ball, but didn't force any turnovers to get themselves easy shots. They have not done that well all year, but this was a game where they needed to make a play that was a stop and an opportunity rolled into on. B-.
Do It, Fluid. Here is where the team flat out failed. They couldn't get much going; and when they scored, it was off of individual creativity - stepbacks by Paris Horne, off the dribble by Hardy. The free throw line helped some of the team's individual percentages, but again, that was off of the individual play... and that's not when St. John's is at their best. F.