There are good things to be said about this St. John's 77-60 loss to the Hoyas in their 100th meeting.
Sure, St. John's fell behind 11-4 at the under-16 minute media timeout. Indeed, D`Vauntes Smith-Rivera outscored the Johnnies until deep in the second half, when the Red Storm finally crossed 26 points on a three from Max Hooper with 13 minutes left in the game.
For sure, the Johnnies shot 21% overall in the first half (6/23 inside the arc, 0/5 from beyond the three-point line), had nine turnovers against the extended Hoya press, and attracted national attention to the disconnect between the Red Storm talent base and their ability to make successful basketball plays.
But we can say this: the second half was closer to competent, for one.
And the game ended, for two.
The Red Storm struggled in every facet of the game against the Georgetown Hoyas, and fell to 9-5 on the season, 0-2 in the Big East. St. John's has a week to ruminate over the beating before taking on 11-ranked Villanova next Saturday at 1:00 PM.
The Hoyas improve to 2-0 in the league, and 10-3 overall. They face Providence next on Wednesday, Jan. 8.
The Red Storm and Hoyas face each other again in Madison Square Garden on Feb. 16.
Where does the team go from here? Searching for - effort? Identity? - the Red Storm crafted a unique and small lineup for the Hoya game, including walk-on Khadim Ndiaye, recently activated Felix Balamou, Sir`Dominic Pointer in his first start of the season, and Orlando Sanchez and D`Angelo Harrison.
Ndiaye drew an offensive foul and hit a jumper; Pointer showed effort for the whole game. Other than that, the starting combination, and every combination played in the first half, simply did not work for Steve Lavin's club.
The final score is closer than the game felt; the Johnnies went into the half down 42-16. They scored .47 points per possession in the first half, gave up 1.24 points/ possession. The number from the Hoyas would have been higher except for Georgetown's nine turnovers.
The Red Storm were down as many as 33 points in the second half.
D`Vauntes Smith Rivera finished with 31 points, finding open looks early to pace the Hoyas. Markel Starks added 12. Much like the Xavier game, the opponent has even contributions offensively across the roster, and won by forcing the Red Storm into long jump shots and keeping them from the rim.
D`Angelo Harrison continued his scoring struggles against the Hoyas, only shooting 1/12 from the floor for four points. Jakarr Sampson had seven points, Orlando Sanchez had five. Chris Obekpa had seven rebounds, two steals and a block.
Max Hooper dropped 13 points on 4/5 shooting from beyond the arc. Sir`Dominic Pointer added 11 points, three steals and three blocks.
Can the Red Storm turn it around? What's the biggest problem for the Johnnies?