For both Rutgers and St. John's, the final game of the 2012 Big East regular season was filled with future potential, and was fought with more passion than skill. When the dust settled and the horn blew, the Scarlet Knights escaped with a 61-58 win over the St. John's Red Storm.
St. John's falls to 13-18, 6-12 in the Big East on the season; Rutgers improves to 14-17, 6-12 with the win. The Big East Tournament schedule is set. Rutgers is the 11 seed in the Big East Tournament, and gets the 9:00 pm game against Villanova. St. John's faces a 2:30 afternoon rematch with Pittsburgh, who bested the Johnnies at home on Wednesday.
A long night of missed shots and bothersome defense on both sides ended with 30 seconds of stout defense by the Red Storm... that was quickly wiped away by the slim soaring arms of Dane Miller, slicing through a hole to dunk a missed Eli Carter shot. There were plays after that one - including a Gordon Hayward-style heave by D`Angelo Harrison (17 points) that would have tied the game that missed the hole by inches.
But Miller's dunk with 9 seconds left in the contest sealed the deal for the Knights, and finished most of a trying freshman year for both teams. The Big East Tournament holds some promise, but chances are both teams will be at home this winter/spring, dreaming of winning seasons and tournament glory.
See also: 2012 Big East Tournament Schedule
The story of the night was chaos and poor execution. The teams turned the ball over on over 20% of their possessions, shot under 43% inside the arc, and shot under 28% from outside of the arc. Rutgers trapped and attacked St. John's; and the Red Storm pressed and swiped as well. Each team went to the line on approximately 37-40% of their shots.
The shooting percentages was poor. Both teams hovered around .81 points per trip (or 81 points per 100 possessions) in the first half and improved to almost 1 point per tip (considered normal/ good) in the second half. With all those missed shots, St. John's grabbed 19 offensive rebounds - around 36% of their own misses.
Amir Garrett was alive early, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the first half as the Red Storm struggled to get going from the field. Garrett finished with 14 points, 5 assists, 9 rebounds (6 offensive), 4 steals, 1 block, and 4 turnovers - the kind of diversified statline his skill set should generate. D`Angelo Harrison led the team in scoring, but struggled to find his shot. God`sgift Achiuwa added 12 and 8 total rebounds (3 offensive).
Rutgers got 15 from Eli Carter, 11 from Mike Poole, and a solid 10 point, 10 rebound, 3 steal, 1 block effort from Dane Miller.
Was something up with Moe Harkless? Moe Harkless looked like he was struggling to get his shots up. Or perhaps his teammates didn't find him. Either way, he didn't make quite the impact he could have, despite his 11 rebounds (5 offensive). He added two blocks, but was held to 8 points on 4/15 shooting. Harkless had injured his ankle at Pitt; could it still be affecting his mobility? Or was the only problem the collapsing of Rutgers' defense when he drove to the paint, choking off his room to operate?
God`sgift strikes again. God`sgift Achiuwa was brawny, mobile, and active on the floor, battling for balls and displaying a lot of fight. Achiuwa looked like an offensive force, going 4/5 from the field. For a couple of games, he seems to have discover the energy and activity that made him an exciting watch in the early parts of the St. John's season.
Foul trouble was an issue. Harkless, Harrison, Phil Greene and Sir`Dominic Pointer all ended the game with 4 fouls. The staff had to mix and match combination to protect players from picking up the fifth foul. Unluckily for the St. John's walk-ons, Rutgers obliged with jump shots, despite the fouls - no St. John's player fouled out. St. John's won't be so lucky if the players get in foul trouble again.