Marquette wins, 57-55. St. John's season possibly ends with a record of 17-15, 7-13 Big East. Marquette advances to play Villanova at 2PM in Madison Square Garden, with a record of 21-10, 12-7 Big East.
The game of basketball is unpredictable. But I think an experienced observer had to say that Marquette and St. John’s played to form. And to the Vegas line of 3.5 in favor of the Golden Eagles. And to the Golden Eagles bizarre penchant to only play close games. And to St. John's schizophrenic brand of basketball.
There was a whole lot of Pepto-poppin' going on today.
Much like last year against Marquette, the halftime found St. John’s with their lowest offensive output of the season. This year it is 17 points; and interesting, because usually, it’s been the second halves that really crush the Red Storm. The beginning was not auspicious – 5-10 from the 3 for the Golden Eagles and 10 of 21 shooting overall.
And then in the second half, St. John’s got the athleticism going on defense, making harder cuts on offense, and just ballin’ out there. The Red Storm scored 38 points in the second half and shot 58.6%, including 3 of 7 on three pointers. But they didn’t get to the line at all – 5 attempts in the game. Then again, Marquette got 10 free throws and some of those were intentional fouls at the end by St. John’s to extend the game – the refs weren’t calling fouls.
The Golden Eagles were paced by Lazar Hayward and his 20 points (2-5 on twos, 4-6 on threes, 4-5 from the line) and 9 rebounds (2 offensive). St. John’s had slightly more diversified scoring, with Sean Evans and D.J. Kennedy putting up 12 points apiece. DJ was 3-7 from inside the arc, 2-4 from beyond the three-point line, and 0-4 from the free throw line, along with 4 assists and 5 rebounds (1 offensive). Sean Evans was 6-8, all from inside the arc with 6 rebounds (2 offensive) 1 steal and 1 block.
More commentary and news links later. And we will delve into what this might mean for Norm Roberts and the St. John's coaching staff realistically. Tonight, the team has something to be a little proud of, battling back against a tough foe.
Justin Burrell, a junior forward, noted that the team wanted to continue improving. "Wherever we can play, N.I.T., C.B.I., I think they have the College Sport Insider, we want to play basketball," he said. "That’s what we’re here for. We really don’t want to be in school doing schoolwork. We want to play basketball."
from the Keys to the Game (from pregame post)
Harass and Defend. They didn't do a good job of harassing early, but late, the Red Storm go out on the Golden Eagles a little better. Did it matter? The Marquette boys shot an effective field goal percentage of just under 60% in the first half and 71% in the second half. The difference in the halves was getting turnovers the team could score with, and executing with confidence on offense. C
Turnovers.The first 20 minutes was a touch sloppy, but in both halves, St. John's forced more turnovers than they gave up. Helped keep the score close. As did scoring loud dunks off of a turnover and a runout. A-
Focus, Grit, and Pep. The first half was lackluster. But whatever they were told in the second half needs to be bottled. It was loud, raucous, and many friends called, texted, or tweeted to see if I was watching the St. John's guys make a come back. True grit for a half, even if the execution at the end - and really, through much of the game - was substandard. If they could execute a little more crisply, they would be a top 5 team in the league. What a way to respond after getting smacked in the teeth. That second half was way more than I could have expected. A-
Attack for Rebounds. 12 offensive boards to 2 offensive boards. Well played, sirs.They battled solidly. A-
Free Throws. Well done of the Red Storm to not allow a lot of free throws to be shot by the Golden Eagles - though the refs called 15 fouls, total (!). The game wasn't out of hand because of Marquette's slashing ability; they had to earn those points. And as such, it was a low-scoring affair, one that St. John's had a chance to win. B+