Following two straight losses against Villanova and DePaul, the Johnnies were in need of a win.
The Red Storm got the win they needed to end a two game slide. Chris Mullin's team took care of business tonight, notching their 15th win of the season over the Creighton Bluejays, 81-66.
St. John’s came out of the gate flat. The offense was slow, and the ball was not moving, and the Creighton defense did not bend in the first 14 minutes of action.
Defensively, the Red Storm were getting beat on the baseline, especially by Bluejays forward Martin Krampelj. In this first half, Krampelj had 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks. He was slowed down in the second frame and finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds.
Since the Red Storm came out sluggish, Creighton found themselves with a seemingly convincing 28-19 lead late in the first frame.
But St. John’s was ignited by their star point guard Shamorie Ponds. Coming off a back injury, Ponds challenged the Bluejays defense. He was creating his own shot, and soon his good looks created opportunities for others to pounce on a more haphazard Creighton defense. Ponds had 14 points and 2 assists in the first half. He finished with 22 points and 6 assists while shooting 50% from the field.
The Red Storm ended the half on a 20-6 run over about 6 minutes. They took a 39-34 lead into the halftime break.
Coming out of the break, the Red Storm picked up where they left off, and stifled the Bluejays.
St. John’s did a nice job throughout keeping the Bluejays at bay. They made a good three-point shooting team take contested shots. Creighton shot below average from beyond the arc, only converting on 11-35. Furthermore, the Johnnies played defense without fouling. Creighton took a total of 4 free-throws as opposed to 18 on the St. John’s side. The Red Storm also did a nice job pressuring the basketball, giving opposing ball handlers a tough time. The Bluejays finished with 13 turnovers.
Strong performances from Justin Simon, LJ Figueroa, and Mustapha Heron helped carry the Johnnies. Those three combined for 50 points, 21 rebounds, and 5 assists. Their performances certainly helped the Red Storm fend off Creighton.
The Johnnies return to action on Saturday. They will head to Indianapolis to take on a stingy Butler Bulldogs team. That contest will tip at 4:30 PM ET, and will be televised on Fox.