St. John’s bounces back to pick up a key win on the road beating Xavier, 86-73.
After back to back losses against ranked teams, and St. John’s well-documented struggles playing at Xavier, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that the skid would continue in Cincinnati against the fringe-top 25 Xavier Musketeers. However, it appears this Red Storm team did not get the memo.
Julian Champagnie had one of his best offensive halves against a respectable opponent in recent memory. Julian’s has been inefficient over the past nine games where he has averaged just over 13 points per game on over 15 attempts per contest. In the first half of this contest, however, Champagnie scored 15 points on an efficient 5 of 9 from the floor and 2 of 4 from deep.
Also with a likely unsung half was Joel Soriano. Despite scoring only 4 points (2/3 FG), he had 4 rebounds 3 assists, and 4 blocks. Soriano’s strong defense in the first half led to his having a +/- of 12, which led both teams for the half.
St. John’s defense outside of Soriano struggled against the Musketeers. Jack Nunge for Xavier had a particularly clean half with 13 points on 5 of 10 from the field and 1 of 3 from deep to go along with 4 rebounds. The Musketeers collectively shot over 53% from the field and nearly 38% from deep.
In a high scoring first half, St. John’s went into the half up 45-42.
In the second half, the Red Storm’s outside shooting quality reverted to what they have shown all season. After shooting 6 of 12 from deep in the first half, the Johnnies missed their first five attempts from beyond the arc after the break. Fortunately for St. John’s, Xavier also went ice cold as well by shooting only 1 of 12 from outside after the break despite a considerable number of open shots for the Musketeers.
Despite the collective poor shooting, St. John’s shooter Tareq Coburn was a key contributor off the bench. Coburn added 7 points in only six minutes of second half play which positioned the Johnnies well for a majority of the half.
As compared to St. John’s recent games, the team was better at the rim. The Red Storm were a much more efficient 21 of 30 at the rim for the game and appeared to benefit from playing against a team whose front court is more finesse than physical.
Rather than the offense going anemic late as it did against UConn, the Johnnies started their close with a 9-0 run with less than four minutes remaining in the contest. The run appeared to give the Red Storm confidence to close cleanly, as the team was methodical on offense, defended without fouling in key spots, and even knocked down their free throws late.
For a change, there was little to no feeling of ‘here we go again’ and the Red Storm leave Cincinnati with a victory, 86-73.
St. John’s Red Storm
Julian Champagnie: 27 points (9/19 FG, 2/7 3PT), 2 rebounds, 5 assists
Tareq Coburn: 13 points (5/8 FG, 3/3 3PT), 1 rebound, 2 assists
Aaron Wheeler: 11 points (4/5 FG, 2/3 3PT), 8 rebounds, 1 assist
Jack Nunge: 22 points (8/16 FG, 1/5 3PT), 7 rebounds, 2 assists
Paul Scruggs: 16 points (6/10 FG, 1/2 3PT), 2 rebounds, 5 assists