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St. John’s Carved Up by Xavier, 96-71

Red Storm experimented on defense and in their rotations, but none of it panned out. They should keep trying something different.

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Xavier Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

St. John’s struggles in all facets of the game in loss to Xavier, 96-71.

There’s a lot to enjoy in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Cincinnati Zoo is one of the nicest in the country, Rhinegeist Brewery has a great tour and enjoyable craft beer, and Skyline Chili is a local delicacy. Even with all that there, the Red Storm had a miserable trip to the Queen City. The Red Storm experienced travel concerns, as the team did not get wheels in the air until about six hours prior to tip off. After they got to Cincinnati, they got blown-out on national tv with the broadcast team being less forgiving of the Johnnies’ flaws than the usual FS1 broadcasts.

David Jones missed the contest due to the unexpected passing of his father last night. Everyone else, including Rafael Pinzon who had been out with an ankle injury, were available for St. John’s.

Even with all things considered, St. John’s was bad in the first half. To use a baseball metaphor, the Red Storm defense was throwing batting practice to Xavier’s offense for the entire half. With the brief exception of a bad minute for the Musketeers after the under-16 minute media timeout, Xavier took some of the most wide open shots they had seen all year since playing Southeastern Louisiana.

With the exception of AJ Storr, the Johnnies had no offense to speak of. Storr scored 12 points on 4 of 6 rom the floor and 2 of 2 from deep. The rest of the Red Storm shot a combined 9 for 30 from the floor and 0 of 4 from deep. Joel Soriano had another slow scoring first half, scoring only 4 points on 2 of 4 from the floor and grabbing 5 rebounds. However, Soriano came into the contest averaging less than an assist per game, and had 4 assists in the first half.

To Mike Anderson’s credit, he did mix the gameplan up a bit. St. John’s largely took its press off and Redshirt Freshman Drissa Traore, who I like as a rotation big next season, got 4 minutes of run for the first time since the Marquette game on January 3. With only 2 fastbreak points and 5 points off of Xavier’s 5 turnovers and Traore only grabbing 1 rebounding and picking up a personal foul, one would be hard-pressed to say the strategic changes paid off.

However, with St. John’s effectively being locked into the 8 seed in the Big East Tournament — barring a more epic collapse than we’ve seen with this team — experimenting is a worthwhile endeavor to see if some form of lightning in a bottle can be caught.

Today, no lightning was caught in the first half, as St. John’s trailed Xavier 49-30 at the half.

More changes occurred in the second half. The Red Storm let Posh Alexander pressure the ball-handlers full court and they even mixed in some zone.

Unfortunately, the results stayed the same. Xavier wasn’t any more careless with the ball with the pressure, and the zone defense resulted in two open threes and a dunk.

The Red Storm got the downside of AJ Storr’s streakiness in the second half with the freshman missing all of his shots and failing to score in the first 16 minutes of the second half. Dylan Addae-Wusu got hot from deep in the second half finishing with 14 points on 3 of 5 from the floor and 3 of 4 from beyond the arc on the backend of the blowout.

All in all, tonight’s nightmare in Cincinnati ended with St. John’s losing to Xavier, 96-71.

St. John’s Red Storm

AJ Storr: 14 points (5-12 FG, 2-3 3PT), 4 rebounds

Dylan Addae-Wusu: 14 points (3-10 FG, 3-7 3PT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists

Andre Curbelo: 13 points (6-14 FG, 1-2 3PT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists

Xavier Musketeers

Jack Nunge: 21 points (7-12 FG, 4-5 3PT), 3 rebounds, 6 assists

Colby Jones: 19 points (7-8 FG, 3-4 3PT), 8 rebounds, 4 assists