The freshmen of St. John's lost their first Big East road game, 83-69, in Hartford against the Connecticut Huskies. It was an excellent defensive performance by UConn, who bothered St. John's in the paint early and often.
The Red Storm had a late 12-1 run to bring the score within 12 with 3:30 to play, but the young squad was never close enough to make the Huskies nervous.
St. John's was led by 17 points from D`Angelo Harrison who went 8-10 from the free throw line (but 4-16 from the field). Harrison had 4 assists, and was the most active offensive player for the Johnnies on New Year's Eve. Moe Harkless and God`sgift Achiuwa each added 16.
St. John's falls to 7-6, 1-1 in the Big East. Connecticut improves to 12-1, 2-0 in the Big East.
The Huskies dominated with field goal defense, limiting the youthful Red Storm to 16.7% shooting from outside the arc. In the first half, the Red Storm shot 1-13 from the perimeter and 8-32 overall. This wasn't a game where youthful turnovers doomed the team - the deficit was all about the inability to generate points against the length and defensive cohesion of UConn.
UConn's offensive skill hurt as well. The Huskies shot 62.5% from inside the arc for the game, and 56.3% from outside, an eFG% of 69.8%, which is stunning, effective, and clinical. The Huskies drew 22 fouls (45.8% Free Throw rate). In the beginning of the second half, St. John's scored 10 points on 3 of 4 shooting by the under-16 time out. But UConn had gone 5 of 5, and all of their shots were assisted.
Despite the loss, Sir`Dominic Pointer had his best offensive performance, scoring 14 points on 6-9 shooting, though much of his scoring came after the game was well in hand by the Huskies.
For Connecticut, Shabazz Napier had 17 points and 9 assists. Jeremy Lamb scorched the nets, shooting 4 of 7 from the outside and 5-9 overall (15 points). Andre Drummond finished a quartet of lob passes on his way to 16 points and 11 total rebounds. Ryan Boatright added 10 off of the bench, and Tyler Olander had 6 off of the bench in the first half.
- St. John's actually had more transition points, 18-15, than UConn. UConn had 15 turnovers to St. John's 7. But the team wasn't able to generate scoring runs.
- Shabazz and Lamb combined for 32 points and 10-15 shooting. They were in control.
- D`Angelo Harrison's aggression kept St. John's in the game, especially early; he was determined to try and score. Harkless struggled to find his offense in the first half.
- The Huskies got to 27% of their possible offensive rebounds. UConn had been getting to over 41% of their misses, so that's a win for the Red Storm's game plan.
- St. John's took 41% of their shots from outside the three-point arc. This season, they had been averaging 27.2% of their attempts from distance.
- The Red Storm were able to create some turnovers from the Huskies, but really struggled to convert their chances, especially at the rim.
- Phil Greene had some nice defensive stretches, bothering Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb.