The Johnnies' hot early start and ability to smother the Hoyas late in the second half gave the Johnnies a comfortable lead for the first win over the Hoyas in seven tries, 82-60. The Johnnies improve to 17-9 on the season, 7-6 in the Big East, and have won five straight.
St. John's faces Butler at Madison Square Garden next on Tuesday; Georgetown has Seton Hall in New Jersey on Thursday.
[Box score | Game thread]
The Red Storm knew they wanted to start faster this game. "We started off the game slow and there was no catching up when they got up," Sir`Dominic Pointer said.
And St. John's was right about the team being completely different from a month ago. The Red Storm knocked off the Hoyas for the first time in seven tries on a pre-holiday Sunday night filled with loud fans, excited kids, and a solid crowd at the Garden.
"We got it together, we fixed it," Harrison said about the slow starts.
A 15-0 start to the game was as hot of a start as the Johnnies could ever imagine. Rysheed Jordan scored the first seven points. Jordan scored a career-high 24 on 8/11 shooting.
And Rysheed brought along friends, getting shots for JaKarr Sampson (12 points) at the rim and freeing up D`Angelo Harrison (24 points on 7/15 shooting) for one of his two best performances against the Hoyas.
Georgetown threw the usual trap defenses at the Johnnies, but St. John's moved the ball effectively, shot confidently and most importantly defended the Hoyas with energy.
The Hoyas brought the game to within six, but the Johnnies weathered the run, holding the Hoyas scoreless for three and a half minutes down the stretch to balloon the lead to 71-58 at the 3:38 mark.
"We took another step as a team," Lavin said, understated in the win and cautious to make too much of the game. "I knew with enough time this team could be special. We haven't done anything of significance yet. We're not going to get complacent. But we're better than we were a month ago."
In classic Big East fashion it got chippy between the two teams, with Chris Obekpa and Jabril Trawick picking up double technicals while fighting for a loose ball around the six-minute mark in the second half. Trawick fouled out on the play. The Hoyas struggled with foul trouble to their big men in the second half; JaKarr Sampson also fouled out.
The Red Storm now look to have an inside track to one of the last Big East Tournament spots.
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