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St. John’s Wins Streetfight at UConn, 85-74

Johnnies pick up their second in a row

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

In a chippy and physical contest, St. John’s was the better streetfighter beating UConn, 85-74. However, the game was much closer than the score appears.

After a heroic performance by Headband Joel against Butler, the Johnnies took more of a Super Friends approach and everyone played their part.

The intensity in the game kicked up a notched when Donovan Clingan elbowed David Jones in the face and David Jones retaliated with an elbow to Clingan’s chest. The referees missed both, and the latter elbow from Jones likely would have been prevented had the officials kept an eye on the ball in Clingan’s hands.

Instead, both players were called for flagrant fouls. Wen both teams got a little chippier in their drives to their baskets, the referees had a pow-wow with the players on the court which resulted in an intense game with minimal extracurricular activities. Posh Alexander and Hassan Diarra got into some verbal extracurriculars later in the half, and both picked up technical fouls.

During the Xavier game, we hear Coach Mike Anderson telling his guys to turn the contest into a street fight. When the guys are locked in, courtesy of Donovan Clingan’s elbow, the Johnnies can street fight with anybody.

St. John’s attacked the rim thereafter, putting up numbers in the paint and taking their first lead of the contest. The Red Storm outscored UConn in the paint where St. John’s scored 18 points to UConn’s 12.

Getting to the cup also help St. John’s get to the free throw line more frequently than they had all year. Coming in, St. John’s averaged just under 5 free throw attempts per game against Big East opponents. Today, the Johnnies attempted 16 free throws in the first half. Unfortunately, they shot an abysmal 8 of 16 from the free throw line minimizing the impact of UConn’s undisciplined defense.

All things considered, the Red Storm had a solid first half and went into the half tied with UConn at 38.

The offense in the second half appeared to have added another element beyond getting the ball to Joel Soriano. St. John’s has implemented cutters into their offense, which capitalized on the creative passers on the roster. Additionally, the Johnnies added some dribble-handoff action in the high post getting Andre Curbelo and Posh Alexander more space to go downhill toward the bucket.

The new movement on offense helped everyone on offense, except Joel Soriano who will benefit from it in the future. Six guys were in double-digit scoring in this one. Soriano led the way with 19, but a considerable amount of that came in the meaningless closing minutes.

The group effort helped St. John’s get a 7-point lead on the Huskies. The Johnnies scored with what looked like ease, forcing UConn to mix in a 1-3-1 zone to try and quell the surging Red Storm.

The zone had some success in that the Red Storm were held without a field goal for nearly 4 minutes. However, the Huskies were fouling like it was the goal of the game, and St. John’s kept getting to the line where they shot a much more acceptable 15 of 21.

St. John’s offense looked a little rushed to close out the contest, but it didn’t matter much because UConn went over 5 minutes without scoring a field goal.

Adama Sanogo and Andre Curbelo were ejected after the outcome of the game was already determined.

As the final buzzer sounded, all you could hear was the repeated groans of the few remaining UConn fans as St. John’s wins their second straight, 85-74.

St. John’s Red Storm

Joel Soriano: 19 points (7-10 FG), 13 rebounds, 1 assist

Posh Alexander: 14 points (3-6 FG, 0-1 3PT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists

AJ Storr: 14 points (5-9 FG, 1-4 3PT), 4 rebounds

Connecticut Huskies

Jordan Hawkins: 31 points (9-16 FG, 4-9 3PT), 5 rebounds, 2 assists

Alex Karaban: 16 points (5-11 FG, 2-7 3PT), 5 rebounds, 1 assist