St. John's dropped two of its three games at the Charleston Classic, but signs are encouraging.
The Red Storm (2-2) fell to the Baylor Bears (4-1), 97-78, on Sunday in a game that was much closer than the score may indicate. The difference was 19 once the buzzer sounded, but Steve Lavin's Johnnies battled deep into the second half.
Baylor utilized its size advantage early and often, grabbing 15 more rebounds than St. John's in the first half. Cory Jefferson points and Isaiah Austin made it look easy in the paint, leading the Bears to a dominant 39-20 rebound differential.
Jefferson scored 20 points and pulled down 14 rebounds (6 offensive), as Austin added 13 points and 13 boards (5 offensive).
The Johnnies had serious issues guarding the perimeter as well - most notably Baylor shooter Brady Heslip. Heslip, who was only 5-22 from behind the arc on the season coming into Sunday, hit a whopping 8 three-pointers, which accounted for all but 5 of his career-high 29 points.
D`Angelo Harrison did not start the game as a minor punishment for being a minute late to the team bus. Harrison's behavior continues to clash with Steve Lavin's philosophies. The guard was held out of the team's second exhibition and did not start the season opener against Detroit.
Once Harrison entered the game a few minutes in, he made his impact felt immediately. He converted his first five three-point attempts, but wasn't able to get many open looks in the second half. He ended with 20 points on 6 of 9 shooting, checked closely by Baylor guard A.J. Walton in the second half.
Fellow guard Phil Greene IV had one of his best offensive performances of his St. John's career. The sophomore guard from Chicago continues his accelerated development by adding 24 points and 7 assists.
JaKarr Sampson showed why he's considered a pro prospect as a freshman, scoring 18 on 7-14 shooting. His offensive display against Baylor is by far his most promising in his young St. John's career to date.
St. John's got an up close and personal look at one of their former commitments Rico Gathers. The Baylor forward de-committed from the Red Storm last year before joining Scott Drew's Bears. He scored 8 on Sunday.
But, as they did in Friday's loss to Murray State, St. John's may have become fatigued as the game went on. Baylor pulled away late as the Johnnies began to miss the shots that seemed to fall all night long.
Famous actor and comedian (and the newest diehard St. John's fan) Bill Murray watched his friend Steve Lavin's team play Baylor in Charleston on Sunday night. He joined the young Johnnies for dinner on Saturday.
The Red Storm will be back in action on Wednesday night at Carnesecca Arena in a pre-Thanksgiving matchup with Holy Cross.