Have the Johnnies found the answers? Are they finally peaking, showing their full potential?
Led by D`Angelo Harrison's scoring outbursts, it definitely seemed like it. Behind Harrison's 27 points and an excellent defensive effort inside the arc, the Red Storm knocked off the Marquette Golden Eagles, 74-59.
St. John's is now tied with Georgetown at 3-6 in the Big East in seventh place. Marquette drops to 4-5 in the league, falling to fifth place after Seton Hall's victory over Xavier in Cincinnati.
The Red Storm have won four of their last five, with the one loss being a close road loss at Creighton.
St. John's is back in action against Providence in Rhode Island on Tuesday, February 4 at 7:00 PM. Marquette faces Butler at home at 9:00 PM on the same night.
"That's what 40 minutes of St. John's looks like," Jakarr Sampson said after the game.
The Johnnies used strong defense to stifle the Marquette Golden Eagles, holding Buzz Williams' team to 35% shooting overall. Post player Davante Gardner was held to 10 points on 4/8 shooting; freshman forward and starter Deonte Burton had 11 points before fouling out. The team was led by 14 points from Derrick Wilson and 11 from Jake Thomas, most of which came after the contest was well out of reach.
St. John's was led by Harrison's scoring (6/11 from three-point, 1/5 from 2-pt range, 7/7 from the line) and a balanced effort, including 10 points from Jakarr Sampson, eight points from Sir`Dominic Pointer and seven points each from Chris Obekpa - looking active on offense - Orlando Sanchez and Phil Greene IV.
Rysheed Jordan had six assists and was effective in getting players shots at the rim. Harrison led the team with seven rebounds. Obekpa had seven blocks, and Pointer and Harrison each had two.
"We're all clicking now," Harrison said.
St. John's fell 6-0 early and gave up a pair of free throws on a technical foul by Chris Obekpa - an errant elbow that caught Marquette center Chris Otule in the Adam's apple.
But once the team got rolling, they rolled. The scoring started with an emphatic JaKarr Sampson dunk - he found a driving lane and cocked back a right-handed one-handed slam plus a foul. And with that shot, St. John's saw the Marquette defense for what it was - porous man defense, and a slow zone that allowed for cross-court passes and penetration. Unlike some other games, St. John's found their offense deep in the paint.
It wasn't all honey and posies; St. John's only scored .99 points per possession in the first half and had seven turnovers. But the Johnnies shot 44% from beyond the arc, powered by D`Angelo Harrison's 11-point stretch between 15:31 and 12:26 in the half.
Marquette had post-halftime energy, holding the Johnnies to one score in five possessions. But D`Angelo Harrison came alive again, and helped spur another energetic stretch where the Johnnies drew fouls and got to the rim.
Jamal Branch started; Rysheed Jordan missed practice visiting his sick mother in Philadelphia.
St. John's scored 21 points off of turnovers. Marquette had 16 turnovers (23% of their possessions).
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