St. John's is off to an 0-3 start to conference play, and things are looking bleak despite a terrific run through their nonconference schedule. This is quite similar to last season for the Johnnies, when they lost in January to Villanova at Madison Square Garden, dropping them to 0-3 in the Big East.
The game on Tuesday night went back in the fourth in the first half, with St. John's ending up leading at the half by one. But once the second half of the contest started, Villanova pulled ahead, and went on to win 90-72.
D'Angelo Harrison and Chris Obekpa faced injuries, and Obekpa was in foul trouble as well, leading to the Red Storm's downfall. St. John's didn't get a strong contribution from its bench, with only seven points coming from there. The Red Storm's lack of depth and injuries in the game were only a few of the problems that were prevalent against Villanova.
St. John's fans expected Rysheed Jordan to provide the team with more depth and added talent, but he was no help on Tuesday. Jordan had two points and three turnovers in 26 minutes of play.
Harrison came back from a knee injury, and finished the game with a game-high 25 points. Phil Greene IV was another important piece with 14 in the loss.
St. John's will play Providence on the road at the Dunkin Donuts Center on Wednesday, looking to snap their losing streak.
Red Storm box score
- St. John's was out boxed and overmatched on the boards against Villanova. As a team, the Johnnies managed to only record 21 rebounds, half of Villanova's 41 rebounds.
- Chris Obekpa was the only inside presence for the St. John's, who gathered a team leading five rebounds.
- Once again D'Angelo Harrison led the team in scoring, which has been the norm this season, with 25 points. Its reached a point now where teams don't have to make Harrison their focus because St. John's has an issue with secondary scoring.
- In his first game back from his leave, Rysheed Jordan went 0-6 from the field and played for 26 minutes.
- Sir'Dominic Pointer fouled with 7:47 left in the game. Jamal Branch and Chris Obekpa both found themselves in serious foul trouble as well.
- Overall the team finished with 19 personal fouls compared to Villanova's 13. Only JayVaughn Pinkston and Kris Jenkins of Villanova were in serious trouble for the Wildcats.
- While the first half of the game was back and forth between the two sides, in the second half Villanova scored 56 points in the second half alone.
- Villanova's second half success can also be attributed to their depth, as Jay Wright was able to rotate shooter after shooter in successful fashion, compared to the nightmares that St. John's bench had to deal with.
What it means?
For one thing, Villanova's performance in the second half against St. John's was simply unreal. Even if the Johnnies had not been in foul trouble, it would have been unlikely they would have been able to completely put a halt to Villanova's shooting and inside skill.
The issue in this game was the team's foul issues and the lack of an interior presence, which seemed to be a holdover from St. John's' last game against Butler. Despite Chris Obekpa putting together a relatively decent effort in the interior, he was just no match for Villanova's bigs, especially Daniel Ochefu.
The Red Storm used their his bench a little bit more albeit in small samples because of the team's foul troubles. Though Jordan should have been limited, his play was more the result of the foul situation of Obekpa and the fouling out of Sir'Dominic Pointer.
St. John's is now 0-3 in conference play. Only Creighton and the Johnnies are without a win in Big East play. They are also two games away from matching their 0-5 start to Big East play last season. The good news for St. John's though is that their next game is not until Wednesday, January 14, which gives the Red Storm the perfect amount of time to rethink and regroup before heading into their tough matchup against Providence on the road.
It is tough to say where this team is headed, but the current path is not looking favorable for St. John's. Perhaps they got hot too early that it covered up their flaws? Maybe, but we're still only three-to-four games into conference play, so its too early to hit the panic button.
The Red Storm will travel to Providence on Wednesday to face the Friars, in their fourth game of conference play.