A dramatic win in the Garden - and one that bolsters the Red Storm's once distant tournament hopes - got a lot of positive press. The Red Storm are 15-9 and drawing national attention - but only drew 6,700 for a Sunday night game. Yes, there's work tomorrow, but that's not the kind of home court advantage that makes a difference.
Winning brings in the fans, and judging by the media attention, the excitement and the Johnnies finally playing to their potential, the fans might have a real reason to come next Sunday evening to see St. John's/ Georgetown.
Rumble in the Garden // St. John's vs Creighton final: St. John's flusters, knocks off #12 Creighton 70-65
In Madison Square Garden, free throws were not free, and the offensive motion that the Jays depended on decided to go sightseeing. Meanwhile, D`Angelo Harrison scored 19 points - nine on free throws, sealing the game late - adding two steals and five rebounds. Harrison's three-pointer with 2:10 left gave St. John's the lead for good.
The Red Storm showed just how dangerous it has become by stunning No. 12 Creighton and its superstar senior Doug McDermott, 70-65, Sunday night before 6,739 at the Garden for its sixth win in seven games. Losers of their first five conference games, the Johnnies (15-9, 5-6) moved into sixth place with a signature win.
"It’s the next level — we just take off now," Sir’Dominic Pointer said. "We’re taking off (and) finding our own little swag. . . . We’re going to be hard to beat if we play like this."
NY Post // Red Storm get big win vs. No. 12 Creighton
Harrison’s clutch NBA-range 3-pointer with 2:10 left proved to be crucial, the go-ahead basket in the see-saw affair, and the junior guard added five free throws over the final 19.6 seconds as St. John’s (15-9, 5-6) won for the sixth time in seven games.
"It was one of the [only] open shots I had all night. I buried it," Harrison said. "The team has a lot of confident in me. Coach [Steve Lavin] does a good job calling your number and he called mine tonight, and I delivered."
The victory, St. John’s first over a ranked opponent in five tries this season, was the kind of résumé-building victory the Red Storm have been in search of to bolster their suddenly surging NCAA Tournament credentials. St. John’s has won three straight Big East games and trails third-place Xavier by two games in the loss column after starting the conference season 0-5.
Newsday // St. John's surprises No. 12 Creighton, 70-65
"Their length and athleticism distracts you," said McDermott, who is no shrinking violet at 6-8 and 225 pounds. "It feels like they can contest every shot with their long wingspan . . . They did a great job of taking me away. I thought they did a great job of switching whenever I came off screens. They were a lot more disciplined down the stretch."
A game that was played at a run-and-gun tempo in the first half turned into a physical defensive battle in the second. Without McDermott's scoring touch, the Bluejays (19-4, 9-2 Big East) had to rely on Grant Gibbs (12 points, 11 rebounds, six assists) and Austin Chatman (10 points), and that wasn't enough.
ESPN NY // St. John's breaks through, beats Creighton
Lavin’s first team at St. John’s, back in 2010-11, had beaten a ranked team by early January, and didn’t dig itself nearly as big a hole in the Big East. But it went 7-0 in conference play in February en route to an at-large NCAA tournament bid.
Omaha World-Herald // Missed free throws sink Creighton in loss to St. John's
That makes one wonder how much better the Red Storm will be in a month when the conference teams gather in the Garden for the league tournament. Doug McDermott, for one, wants a chance to see.
"St. John’s is a really good team," he said. "They’re dangerous. They’re competing a lot harder than they were to start the year. We know there’s a chance we’ll see them again, and we just need to get back to Omaha and get back to work."
Despite not taking a shot in almost the final nine minutes, McDermott put up 18 in 37 minutes of playing time. He made 10 but missed several in the first half that he normally converts.
"Sampson is long and athletic, and when they go to the bench they bring in someone else that is long and athletic," Greg McDermott said. "But Doug missed some point-blank layups in the first half that their athleticism had nothing to do with."
Anonymous Eagle // 2.10 Around The Big East - Anonymous Eagle
Dougie McBuckets' last shot of the game gave the Jays a 59-57 lead, but St. John's returned with a 5-0 run that took nearly five minutes off the clock. Creighton wasn't going away, though, and Grant Gibbs would get a free throw and then a jumper to retie the game, and a freebie from Austin Chatman put the Jays up 63-62. That's when Harrison took over. He would score the last eight points of the game for St. John's over the final 2:10, and the defense held Creighton to just a lone Devin Brooks layup with nine seconds left that did create a bit of drama.
Sports Illustrated One-on-One Blog // St. John's stun Creighton, Cuse stays unbeaten, Sunday wrap
McDermott shot 10-for-18 for 25 points, near his season average (25.3), but the two-time All-American didn’t score after converting a layup for a two-point Bluejays lead with 8:41 remaining. So while McDermott got his points, St. John’s defended him well when it needed to.
This is the sort of win the Red Storm needed to prove that its recent hot streak was not merely a product of easy competition. Wins over Seton Hall, Butler and Providence showed St. John’s had awoken from its early Big East slumber – it lost five straight to open conference play – but it had yet to notch a noteworthy win.
D’angelo Harrison finished with 19 points, scoring the last eight for St. John’s as they outlasted Doug McDermott and No. 12 Creighton at the Garden, 70-65, on Sunday night.
McDermott finished with 25 points, but he didn’t score in the final 8:41 as the Johnnies sent two or three guys at him even before he got his hands on the ball. It was a stark contrast to the way that they tried to defend the National Player of the Year favorite the last time these two teams locked horns. In that game, St. John’s tried to shut down everyone else on the roster, allowing McDermott to try and beat his man one-on-one. It almost worked, but McDermott had 39 points and the game-winning three in a 63-60 win.
USA Today // 4-point play: St. John's upsets No. 12 Creighton
St. John's game plan down the stretch was obvious, and players admitted as much after the final buzzer: Don't let McDermott beat you. Though McDermott had 25 points on the night, he did not score in the final 8:40 of the game. He didn't even attempt a shot during that period, either.
St. John's started 0-5 in the Big East, and things were dire to say the least.
''I knew we would struggle but I didn't think we'd start 0-5 in the league - maybe 2-3,'' Lavin said. ''I have always thought we could keep getting better. ... Another hurdle cleared that shows this team is maturing.''
The Red Storm did a tremendous job on defense. They held the Bluejays, who came in leading the league in scoring (81.2), field goal percentage (49.2) and 3-point percentage (42.8), to 41.1 percent from the field (23 of 56) and 22.7 percent from 3-point range (5 of 22).
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NY Post - Mike Vaccaro // St. John’s desperately needed this kind of signature win
And the difference between 0-for-5 and 1-for-6 is almost immeasurable. The Johnnies had already rescued their season, grinding back from 0-5 in the Big East, winning six out of seven. Now they have No. 9 in the RPI on their résumé. It isn’t enough, not yet. But it’s a damn good start, with plenty of season left.
"It feels great to get this out of the way," said Sir’Dominic Pointer, the Johnnies’ junior swingman. "I think we’re finding our own little groove now. We’re hard to beat if we play like this."
They have been an impossible team to figure out most of the year but that is the beauty of the long season: You don’t have to figure anything out by Thanksgiving, or by New Year’s. Only by March. And the Johnnies seem to be getting there with a few weeks to spare.
And for both teams, psychological concerns.
Omaha World-Herald // Notes: Coach concerned by Jays' defense
Creighton coach Greg McDermott's concern meter went off Sunday night after his team scored on eight of its first nine possessions against St. John's.
"We did a great job of getting some easy looks," he said. "We were great on the offensive end but we weren't carrying that over at all. We have to be able to play on both ends of the floor.
"We can't let it get into our heads that we're just going to outscore guys. We have to dig in on the defensive end and let the scoring take care of itself."
Whenever Lavin discusses the evolution of this team, he traces it to the second half of the second Big East game at Georgetown. The Red Storm trailed 42-16 at halftime and that grew to 33 points in the second half. But after losing that game by 17, they played No. 8 Villanova tough in a seven-point loss, blew a late lead in a two-point loss at DePaul and then blew leads in regulation and both overtime periods of an 84-83 home loss to Providence.
They didn’t look like a group about to go on a hot roll, but here they are. "To see the hard work pay dividends is very rewarding for the staff," Lavin said. "That’s why we coach is to see the growth and development in young players.
"This win is significant because this particular group has worked so hard from halftime of the Georgetown game. Resilience, gumption, fighting back, character. There’s a gravitas to this group, a developing gravitas. We’ve found ourselves through struggle, adversity, hardship."
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