That was a decisive, sound thrashing of the DePaul Blue Demons. The final score was 76-51, and it was a comfortable win, with a cushion built in a 16-4 run late in the first half before the final TV timeout.
Tonight, the Red Storm played like a serious team should - with purpose, with seriousness, and with an eye towards creating separation on the scoreboard. They've learned a lot in the last year about how to win. Faced with a scrappy but overmatched opponent in the DePaul Blue Demons, who came out with a solid game plan... St. John's kept the pressure on and stomped them.
Kudos to the squad, they looked like an honest-to-goodness tournament team. More, below the fold.Boxscore
The Johnnies only shot 3 of 12 from outside the arc (25%), and only 11 of 18 from the free throw line (61%), continuing the offensive dropoff between the team's average and the Carnesecca Arena games. But St. John's got 42 points inside the paint - mostly in transition, with 19 fast break points and numerous opportunities created by pushing the ball.
The team was led by a crisp 21 points from Dwight Hardy; 14 points from Paris Horne, who took advantage of transition opportunities thunderously; and an 11 point, 10 rebound effort from D.J. Kennedy. Dwayne Polee II (8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists) took advantage of the Blue Demons' weakness in transition and gave the crowd a pair of dunks to talk about.
And the passing - the bounce pass by Hardy to Paris Horne for the dunk with 4:47 in the game, and the slick pass from Dwayne Polee to Hardy cutting to the basket 2 minutes into the second half? That was swagger. That was the right kind of showboating - the passes a player might not make against Pittsburgh but one makes in a blowout victory over DePaul. And the defense! Paris was tough on the ballhandlers, and contested shots against anybody he could catch up to.
The Blue Demons were game, getting 16 points from freshman Cleveland Melvin, but no other double figure scorers. Melvin was helped by three three-pointers each from Jeremiah Kelly and Jimmy Drew - they were open early in the game. Brandon Young couldn't find his shot, going 2-10 for 5 very quiet points. Overall, the Blue Demons shot 27.8% inside the arc, and 36.8% outside (a combined 30.9%). They struggled.
DePaul came out with some effective ball movement and active hands, especially in the paint. But the Blue Demons were frustrated by a 22-point first half and an inability to get shots up against the zone... and the turnovers St. John's forced. The Red Storm did a great job contesting DePaul's shots at the the rim, even in transition.
Good game all around. Next up - a trip to Philadelphia on Saturday to face the Villanova Wildcats.