The Johnnies face the winner of Murray State and Auburn later this evening.
Apparently, the College of Charleston Cougars were very easy to figure out, despite their veterans.
Behind 21 points from D`Angelo Harrison, St. John's handled the College of Charleston easily, 64 to 53. Except for a two-minute surge in the last six minutes, the Johnnies handled the Cougars, moving one step closer to Sunday's Charleston Classic championship game. St. John's is 2-0 on the season; Charleston falls to 1-1.
The home team was assumed to be the favorite, but after the 12:35 mark, St. John's controlled the deep paint, forced bad shots, and forced sloppy passes with their long arms. St. John's turned Cougar misses into fast break scoring opportunities in the first half, ballooning the lead to 16 at one point.
"We talked about the road warrior tour beginning for the Johnnies. If you're going to do anything special in college basketball, you're going to have to win on the road, Steve Lavin said to announcer Tim Welsh after the game. "And there's a mindset, an approach - trying to take the home crowd out of the game, that's why we ran our spread court sets."
The Red Storm drove around Charleston at will out of those sets, snaking into the lane for shots at the rim. Both D`Angelo Harrison and Phil Greene IV (10 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds) found shots off of the dribble to pace the Red Storm late; Christian Jones (8 points, 5 rebounds) and JaKarr Sampson (8 points, 10 rebounds) paced the Red Storm early, drawing fouls and scoring at the rim. Amir Garrett added 11.
The Cougars worked the paint, but only drew 10 foul shots - and committed 14 turnovers. St. John's committed 6.
"Really, it was taking care of the ball, getting good shots, and sustaining our intensity, yet not fouling," Lavin said.
The area around the circle in the paint was a turnover-zone against the length and quickness all over the court. The Cougars missed open shots at the rim, worried about shot blocking.
Christian Jones and Chris Obekpa bothered the Cougars in the post, stifling Trent Wiedeman (10 points, 5 rebounds) on every touch. Andrew Lawrence (7 points, 4 fouls) was invisible against the Red Storm pressure.
Next up in the Charleston Classic for Steve Lavin's squad is the winner of the Auburn/ Murray State game, the last game of the night at TD Arena. The Johnnies will take the court at 5:30 Eastern time tomorrow.
Felix Balamou received minutes early, grabbing a solid offensive rebound.