St. John's brushed off last night's overtime loss with a strong 24-4 run in the second half to overcome the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 69-58. D`Angelo Harrison led the effort for the Johnnies with 21 points, while the defense forced the Jackets into 8/28 shooting in the second half.
St. John's goes to 5-2 on the season, and have a week off before facing Fordham next Saturday afternoon in Madison Square Garden at the Holiday Festival; Georgia Tech falls to 5-3 has Illinois in the ACC/ Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday.
The game started like St. John's games this year have started - slow, plodding and free of scoring.
St. John's replaced Orlando Sanchez in the starting lineup with Max Hooper for a little offense, but found sloppiness early. Georgia Tech joined St. John's in early sloppiness, turning the ball over three times in the first four possessions. But they found their rhythm early, finding spaces for three-pointers in a team effort.
Tech shot 5/10 from beyond the arc in the first half, and induced a seven-minute scoring drought from the Johnnies. In the drought, St. John's shot 0/9, committed four turnovers, and lost their defensive intensity.
But late in the first half, Harrison started looking for his shot, driving into the lane, probing for spaces, and coaxing fouls out of his defenders. The Johnnies' free throw shooting kept them in the game, but couldn't fully close the gap.
A mid-second half burst of full-court pressure defense disrupted the Yellow Jackets' passing lanes, disrupting their shots at the rim. And JaKarr Sampson (16 points) came alive, driving and dunking and getting shots at the rim. A 24-4 run between the 13:00 mark and the 4:00 gave the Johnnies the lead, and sealed the game.
Sir'Dominic Pointer scored 9 points, and added 5 steals and 3 rebounds in the win. Chris Obekpa contributed 3 points, 5 rebounds and 6 blocks in the win. Jamal Branch added a productive 7 points and 4 assists.
Georgia Tech was led by 9 points each from Robert Carter Jr. and Trae Golden. Daniel Miller added 12 rebounds and 8 points.
St. John's shot 60% inside the arc and 50% outside the arc in the second half, putting up 1.22 points per possession in the frame.
Georgia Tech committed 10 second half turnovers, shot 32% inside the arc, and 17% outside the arc.
The slow starts are an obvious problem. Georgia Tech's lack of composure allowed St. John's back in the game; but the Johnnies were struggling to play solid, cohesive basketball in the first half. When the game became a ragged, full-court contest, the Johnnies shined. But when they had to work Tech's defense, the team struggled to put up points.
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