Stat recap: analysis from St. John's 63-47 loss to Pittsburgh

Tray Woodall's career afternoon paced the Panthers. - Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Guest post from Ray Floriani breaking down yesterday's loss.

From courtside, Ray Floriani (Twitter: @rfloriani) sends us his tempo-free take on the game and what Pitt did to smother the St. John's attack yesterday. Thanks to Ray for his insights, and take a read.

The first half gave St. John’s fans hope for a much needed win. The second half was the demise in a 63-47 loss to Pitt at Madison Square Garden.

The basic numbers:

Team
Possessions
Off. Efficiency
Pittsburgh Panthers
60
105
St. John’s Red Storm
61
77

Can you say grind it out? A sixty possession affair right to Pitt’s liking.

The factor, of the Four Factors, that stood out today was turnover rate. Pitt was at 17% and St. John’s checked in at 20%. Not disastrously high for the game but the manner these turnovers occurred proved the difference.

In the first half, St. John’s had three turnovers on 41 possessions. That gave an outstanding 10% TO rate. Trailing 30-27 at the half, St. John’s was in a position where the game was up for grabs.

The second half saw 9 turnovers on 30 possessions, an extremely high 30% turnover rate. What happened?

"You have to credit Pitt’s defense but we got careless with the ball," said St. John’s coach Steve Lavin. "A number of times we got in the seam of their defense and had the ball stripped away." As Lavin pointed out, Pitt had a 17-4 edge on points off turnovers so those costly miscues helped the Panthers put points on the board.

Pitt did not trap or full court press - just the tough half court defense for which they are well known.

Pitt used what appeared to be a soft man to man. "St. John’s does a good job of spreading you out," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "Having some of our big guys come out to guard against someone was a concern." The ‘soft’ man to man was set up to try to eliminate dribble penetration by the Red Storm - which it did.

On offense, Pitt would work against the St. John’s zone by getting the ball low and hitting a cutter going to the basket from the high post. The perimeter was very effective as well. Tray Woodall paced all scorers with 25 points and in coach Jamie Dixon’s opinion, "did not take a bad shot nor throw a bad pass all day."

St. John’s was actually more effective the first half. The box score showed zero fast break points for both teams. In the first half St. John’s got our more in transition, getting some shots before the Pitt defense could set up - even though not credited with fast break points. The Red Storm ended too many possessions with off balance ‘prayers’. Still, they were right there (30-27) at the break.

The second half saw the Red Storm settle into more deliberate patterns. That led to an increase in turnovers and an output of just seven field goals. It must be noted that seventh basket was a Sportscenter-style dunk from JaKarr Sampson with seconds left and the outcome decided and entering the books.

Jakarr Sampson paced St. John’s with 14 points. Phil Greene added 11 for St. John’s. D’Angelo Harrison suffered through a 1 of 12 shooting performance (6 points). Not sure if even a hot hand from Harrison would have changed things today. The comparative numbers of the leaders using the Win Score of Dave Berri as added comparison:

Points
Efficiency
Win Score
Woodall
25
26
12
Sampson
14
17
7

For now, Sampson’s 7 is a respectable showing. Woodall’s 12 WS at the guard spot is nothing short of excellent.

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