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St. John's at Xavier final: St. John's grits out 78-70 road win

The Johnnies are .500 in the Big East, and in possession of a good win for the NCAA Tournament resume.

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Behind Sir`Dominic Pointer's 24 points, four steals, two blocks and five rebounds, St. John's gets a huge win 78-70 win against the Xavier Musketeers on the road, and there is hope again for rising in the Big East standings - and for making the NCAA Tournament.

Rysheed Jordan (eight points), with just over a minute left in the game with St. John's clinging to a lead, had a poor offensive possession in which he intended to take forward Jalen Reynolds off the dribble. He couldn't; so Jordan passed to Phil Greene IV (15 points on 6/14 shooting) with under five seconds left to bail out. Greene dribbled once, saw he was covered, raised for the shot - drawing Jordan's defender - and passed off to Jordan.

Jordan's three with no time left on the shot clock dropped in.

And with that shot - and the Red Storm hanging on against some offensive rebounds and shots from Myles Davis - St. John's (17-8, 6-6 in the Big East) can start thinking about making a February run.

Xavier (16-10, 7-7 in the Big East) faces Cincinnati in the Crosstown shootout on Wednesday next; St. John's travels to the nation's capital to face the tall and well-rested Georgetown Hoyas on Tuesday.

It was a tight one in Cincinnati, with both Xavier and St. John's in need of a win in the scrum in the middle of the Big East standings. St. John's, undersized against the size of the Musketeers, came out attempting to front the post with Felix Balamou (no points, two fouls).

And when that led to a quick start from the Musketeers, the Red Storm inserted Chris Obekpa, and the battle was on.

Attacking the basket in transition, St. John's generally stayed out of half court situations against the packed in defense of Chris Mack's team. With Rysheed Jordan on the bench with two fouls, Jamal Branch scored 11 points, and the Red Storm passed the ball well, finding scoring opportunities on their way to a 40 point (1.09 points/ possession) half.

St. John's seemed to have the game handled with an 8-0 run early in the second half. But the combination of big forwards Matt Stainbrook (17 points, nine rebounds) and Jalen Reynolds (12 points, seven rebounds) helped guide the Xavier offense back, bringing the home team within a point with under five minutes remaining.

But St. John's mixed up defenses, forced two turnovers, and defended the rim well against Stainbrook and company to hold Xavier to five points the rest of the way.

D`Angelo Harrison had 18 points and five rebounds; but only five points after the half. He injured his calf with two minutes left in the first half, but returned to start the second; he drew two fouls on Xavier point guard Dee Davis, who struggled (five points on 2/9 shooting) against St. John's despite nine assists.

Trevon Bluiett added 16 points for Xavier. Myles Davis had seven for the home team.

Chris Obekpa contributed five rebounds and three blocks for the visiting Red Storm; Amar Alibegovic added five rebounds and two steals.

St. John's shot 35% outside the arc, and 61% inside the arc for the game (1.15 points/ possession); the Johnnies held Xavier to 48% shooting inside the arc despite their post presences.