Butler, with the memories of both the loss to St. John’s at the beginning of Big East play and the knowledge that the team has lost three of four, came ready to defend their home court tonight.
From the outset of tonight’s 110-86 beating, the Bulldogs we were crisp. And St. John’s was off, most notably on the glass.
St. John’s falls to 12-15 on the season, 6-8 in the Big East. Butler, currently ranked #24th, improves to 20-6, 9-5 in the Big East. The Bulldogs scored a season-high 110 points, which is the most points scored in the Big East this season and the most given up in a conference game by 2003.
The Bulldogs attacked the boards with each miss, while the ball seemed repelled by Red Storm hands at times. The final damage in the first half was a tally of 24 total rebounds for Butler to eight for St. John’s. More specifically, when the Bulldogs missed, the Johnnies got six defensive rebounds, and Butler got nine of their own misses (60%).
Butler found an explosive Avery Woodson to take advantage of opportunities, scoring 15 of his career-tying 20 in the first half.
From the beginning of the game, Butler was sharp and prepared. Meanwhile, in an attempt to attack, St. John's took a pair of hasty early shots against a well-structured defense.
Struggles ensued. Butler out-toughed St. John's for offensive rebounds and the Johnnies found themselves down 21-7.
The Red Storm were better, deflecting balls, bothering passes and attacking the rim on offense; they got the game to within seven points with 5:19 to go, after a pair of Marcus Lovett free throws. But a 7-0 run in the next minute by Butler put the game out of reach.
St. John’s got 20 from Federico Mussini, tying his season-high and the most he has scored in Big East play. Shamorie Ponds scored 18 and LoVett and Ahmed added 15.
There were 77 free throws shot in this game.
Butler was paced by 20 from Woodson and Andrew Chrabacz, who consistently owned the paint for his shot. Kelan Martin added 19 with nine rebounds; Tyler Wideman added 10 rebounds and 14 points.
St. John’s hasn’t won at Butler since 2014, nor have they played a close game at Butler since then. The team lost by 20 last year and by 23 in Steve Lavin’s final season.
St. John’s hits the court again next Tuesday, again in the midwest - at Marquette. St. John’s knocked off Marquette on February 1st and hope to get off to a better start - and get a better result.