With little room for error, St. John's (15-8, 4-6) avoided a season sweep to Creighton (11-14, 2-10) at Madison Square on Saturday afternoon, winning 84-66.
The Johnnies showed a balanced attack but they were led by Rysheed Jordan, who scored a career high 25 points on 6 threes and only 2 turnovers. D'Angelo Harrison, 21 points on 5 for 8 shooting and 10 rebounds, looked healthy again and took a more aggressive approach offensively.
Phil Greene scored 13 points while Sir'Dominic Pointer put up 10 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and blocked a career high 8 shots.
Chris Obekpa did not start and has been stripped of his starting spot indefinitely because of his ejection against the Bulldogs. The shot-blocker did enter the game early in the second half but rolled an ankle six seconds in and had to go to the locker room.
The Johnnies got out to a quick 25-15 start and never relinquished that lead thanks to an improved sense of urgency. They knew their season was on the line in this game and the energy and composure was significantly improved from their showdown earlier in the week at Hinkle.
The Red Storm moved the ball with ease, 14 assists on 30 field goals, and they shot an impressive, 56 percent from the field. They also played well on defense as they blocked 8 shots, held Creighton to 36 percent shooting and gave up only 5 threes.
Without Obekpa, the Red Storm were forced to play a five-guard lineup and that served to their advantage. The home team played with a fast tempo and created mismatches on the offensive end of the floor.
On the other end of the court, St. John's used their speed to cut off Creighton's penetration and did a better job of closing out on shooters to keep their opponent from getting into a groove from down town.
Balamou, the starter in place of Obekpa, did not put up stellar stats but he was confident when shooting the ball and made a couple of key plays on defense.
Amar Alibegovic, 7 points, contributed off the bench, giving the Johnnies a bigger body to go to.
Geoffrey Groselle led the Blue Jays with 13 points and Rick Kreklow added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Johnnies face another tough task on Wednesday when DePaul will make their trip to Carnesecca Arena at 9 pm. The Blue Demons knocked off the Johnnies earlier this season in an overtime battle in Chicago so St. John's is looking for their revenge.