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St. John’s Falters Against Freeman-Liberty-led DePaul, 99-94

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The Red Storm could not beat the Blue Demons despite the ideal pace

Syndication: The Enquirer Jeff Dean for The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

St. John’s could not do anything to stop DePaul’s Javon Freeman-Liberty, who single-handedly handed the Johnnies another loss, 99-94.

In a matchup that the Red Storm can likely expect to repeat in the play-in round of the Big East Tournament, DePaul featured Javon Freeman-Liberty. Feeman-Liberty the best player on the floor tonight and should be favored to be the best player on the floor in St. John’s plays this DePaul team again. Until then, the Red Storm have two more games left to see if they can salvage the season with a Big East Tournament run.

If the first half, the pace was quick, with both teams having at least 37 possessions. While that usually is indicative of St. John’s dictating the pace and playing their game, in the half, DePaul seemed far more comfortable playing fast than the Johnnies did. Both teams were nearly equal on the turnovers, with the Red Storm having 6 and the Blue Demons having 5, but DePaul capitalized more with 5 points off of turnovers as compared to St. John’s 2.

Not only was the pace up and down, but DePaul capitalized by getting easy passes to players under the bucket. While St. John’s struggled to keep the ball out of the paint against Creighton, DePaul took that to an extreme by scoring 26 points at the rim on 13 of 18 on such attempts. In contrast, the Johnnies scored a similar 20 points at the bucket but on a less efficient 10 of 21 at the rim.

What kept St. John’s in this game was their second chance points. Often second chance points by other teams had been the bane of the Johnnies' existence. Tonight, however, the Red Storm grabbed 9 offensive rebounds, with Posh Alexander grabbing 5 of them, which allowed the team to score 17 second chance points.

Those second chances gave St. John’s going into the half down only 47-41.

In the second half, Julian Champagnie tried to battle it out with Javon Freeman-Liberty, but Freeman-Liberty dominated that matchup.

For the first time in recent memory, the Red Storm ran actual action to get Julian Champagnie good looks in the second half. After no-show performances by Champagnie against Creighton and in the first half against DePaul, the junior wing carried the Johnnies offense for stretches in the second half. Champagnie’s 21 second half points on 8 of 16 from the floor was competent enough for stretches, but the offense outside of those stretches struggled to produce.

Despite Champagnie’s inconsistent production in this one, his production pales in comparison to Javon Freeman-Liberty’s night. Freeman-Liberty’s second half was more efficient and relentless than Champagnies, as the DePaul guard finished the second half with 26 points on an easy 9 of 13 from the field leading to a career high 39 points in the game for Freeman-Liberty.

St. John’s rotated through guys guarding Freeman-Liberty and tried several things to get the DePaul guard out of his comfort zone. The Red Storm did everything but double Freeman-Liberty, which may have been a worthwhile approach against the best player on the floor.

St. John’s Red Storm

Julian Champagnie: 26 points (10/27 FG, 4/9 3PT), 6 rebounds

Aaron Wheeler: 20 points (8/13 FG, 2/6 3PT), 7 rebounds, 3 assists

Posh Alexander: 18 points (8/12 FG, 0/1 3PT), 8 rebounds, 4 assists

DePaul Blue Demons

Javon Freeman-Liberty: 39 points (14/21 FG, 5/8 3PT), 8 rebounds, 2 assists

David Jones: 24 points (8/15 FG, 1/4 3PT), 10 rebounds, 5 assists