St. John’s struggled to establish their game in the first half. After dominating Georgetown in the paint in the first round, Xavier took control of the paint. The Musketeers outscored the Red Storm 16-6 in the lane in the first half.
To make matters worse, Tariq Owens and Bashir Ahmed had trouble staying on the floor, dealing with foul issues. Owens only got six minutes of action in the first half, and Ahmed got ten.
To deal with the fouls issues, senior Amar Alibegovic got 14 first half minutes and walk-on sophomore Justin Cole got 5 minutes of court time.
Ponds, who was bodied and doubled off of almost every pick, was unable to create for himself or others, allowing Justin Simon to have a big half. Simon finished the half with 12 points (5-7 FG, 2-3 3PT) and 3 rebounds.
With all the offensive woes the Red Storm weathered in the first half, St. John’s forced some issues on Xavier’s offense as well. The senior back-court for the Musketeers of JP Macura and Trevon Bluiett combined to go 3 of 13 from the floor and 1 of 8 from deep for a first half total of 13 points.
In the second half, St. John’s came out sluggish while Xavier came out hot. Xavier’s Kerem Kanter went straight at Owens to capitalize on Owens’s foul issues, and Xavier went on a 9-0 run to create a 13 point lead.
After a needed St. John’s timeout, the Red Storm were able to keep pace with Xavier. Unable to shrink the lead, but unwilling to go away, the Red Storm hung around down around 10 for the next couple of minutes.
Unable to establish any sort of paint presence, St. John’s fell further behind settling for contested perimeter jumpers.
Despite St. John’s effort, Xavier’s length, athleticism, and depth proved to be too much for the Red Storm in the second half. After the 13 minute mark, Xavier was able to take any shot they wanted, and they generally went in. From there, Xavier created and protected a 20 point lead, and Xavier cleared their bench with under 90 seconds remaining.
Xavier finished the game outscoring the Red Storm 36-22 in the paint, 23-12 from the free throw line, and 12-2 on fast break points.
From that, St. John’s fell to Xavier, 88-60.
St. John’s Red Storm
Shamorie Ponds: 15 Points (4-14 FG, 0-7 3PT), 7 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 3 Turnovers
Justin Simon: 14 Points (6-11 FG, 2-3 3PT), 3 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 4 Turnovers
Marvin Clark II: 18 Points (6-16 FG, 3-10 3PT), 6 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 1 Turnover
Trevon Bluiett: 27 Points (8-18 FG, 4-11 3PT), 7 Rebounds, 4 Turnovers
Kaiser Gates: 16 Points (6-7 FG, 4-5 3PT), 4 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 1 Turnover
Kerem Kanter: 12 Points (4-7 FG), 3 Rebounds