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St. John’s Blows Out Shorthanded Butler, 76-63

One down, three to go

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament First Round - St. John’s vs Butler Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

St. John’s dominance on the boards lead to a blowout win over a shorthanded Butler team, 76-63.

Everyone is aware of the issues and flaws with this Red Storm team by now. However, a Cinderella run in the Big East Tournament would erase all of this season’s heartbreak. The Johnnies took the first step in the run today.

St. John’s Andre Curbelo is out due to being in concussion protocol and and Rafael Pinzon indefinite suspension continues. Butler’s Manny Bates and Eric Hunter Jr. didn’t suit up due to failing to meet academic standards.

The Red Storm were dominant on the boards against the thinner-than-usual Bulldogs, particularly on the offensive glass. The Johnnies grabbed 8 offensive rebounds leading to 14 second chance points, which was the difference in the half. Joel Soriano and Esahia Nyiwe led the way on the offensive glass with 2 offensive rebounds apiece. Soriano also led the way for St. John’s in scoring with 11 points (5-7 FG) and added 7 rebounds.

Posh Alexander continued his recent offensive tear in this one. In the two games leading up to the Big East Tournament, Alexander has averaged 18 points on over 54% shooting from the floor and 50% from deep. In the first half, Posh had 11 points on near perfect 4 of 5 from the field and 2 of 3 from deep with the only miss coming on a full court heave at the end of the half.

At the half, St. John’s led Butler 44-29.

The quality offensive rebounding continued for the Red Storm in the second half. The Johnnies grabbed 12 more offensive rebounds, led again by Soriano who grabbed 4 offensive boards. Surprisingly, the team’s 12 offensive rebounds only resulted in 6 second chance points.

St. John’s increased their lead to as many as 21 points just over 4 minutes into the second half. Then the Red Storm started being careless with the basketball. The Johnnies turned the ball over 8 time after the break leading to 12 points off turnovers for Butler.

The Bulldogs cut the lead to single digits before AJ Storr knocked down 4 straight free throws followed by a Soriano fastbreak dunk to regain a more comfortable double-digit lead.

After a quiet first half, AJ Storr looked better after halftime. The freshman got back to attacking the rim which regularly ushered him to the free throw line. Storr added 10 points on an efficient 2 of 3 from the floor and perfect 1 of 1 from deep.

After quelling the Butler comeback attempt, the game ended with little fanfare and few fouls before St. John’s picked up the win, 76-63.

Next, the Red Storm will take on Marquette at noon tomorrow at Madison Square Garden.

St. John’s Red Storm

Joel Soriano: 19 points (8-13 FG), 15 rebounds, 2 assists

AJ Storr: 15 points (4-7 FG, 1-1 3PT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists

Posh Alexander: 13 points (5-10 FG, 3-7 3PT), 5 rebounds, 2 assists

Butler Bulldogs

Simas Lukosius: 23 points (8-15 FG, 4-9 3PT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists

Jalen Thomas: 20 points (10-16 FG, 0-1 3PT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists