The energy and intensity was back but the offensive production wasn't.
Looking to snap their eight game losing streak and earn their first Big East victory, St. John's was crushed, 78 to 58, by the 23rd ranked Butler Bulldogs in an emotional Hinkle Fieldhouse that honored former Bulldog Andrew Smith on Saturday.
Federico Mussini led the team in scoring with 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting and only committed two turnovers while Kassoum Yakwe, in his third straight start, finished with three points, eight rebounds and four blocks and had an effective first half. Ron Mvouika, five points, and Durand Johnson, 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting, had issues with shot selection and battled foul trouble.
Felix Balamou added 13 points but Malik Ellison had a rough outing as he scored three points and committed four giveaways along with Amar Alibegovic, who hit just a single three.
Both teams came out of the gates with sloppy play on the offensive end as the Bulldogs committed 11 turnovers and the Johnnies had no rhythm or crisp passing along with eight turnovers. Johnson and Mvouika both picked up two fouls and the visitors were not aggressive enough, settling for too many outside shots and failing to get out in transition to use their athleticism and speed.
Even with Yakwe dominating the interior defensively, the Bulldogs got to the free throw line 14 times in the first half, shooting 79 percent, and were able to build a 14-point halftime lead with Kellen Dunham (24 total points) putting up 12 points. The Bulldogs countered their poor decision making by dominating the Johnnies on the glass and shooting 46 percent in the opening stanza.
The Johnnies could not inch much closer in the second half as they could not to defend the three point line successfully (Butler shot 44 percent from downtown), had no post presence without Yankuba Sima and were careless with the basketball (17 total turnovers). They shot only 34 percent from the field, 19 percent from beyond the arc and continued to trip up at the free throw line, knocking down only 59 percent of their free-bees.
While Dunham was dominate, Andrew Chrabascz used his perimeter skills to score 13 points while Roosevelt Jones had an off day with five points on 2-of-5 shooting. Kelan Martin was also excellent off the bench, recording a double double with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Butler hit seven total threes and shot 48 percent from all areas of the field.
The Johnnies (7-12, 0-6) will have a six day break before taking on Henry Ellenson, Luke Fischer and the Marquette Golden Eagles at Madison Square Garden next Saturday.