On the final day of regular season action in the Big East Conference, St. John's had an opportunity to make a statement to the rest of the league. Villanova had other ideas, however, as they used a big second half to take down the Red Storm 105-68.
Here are three things we learned from the blowout win:
1. St. John's can hang
Similar to their first matchup with Villanova in early January, St. John's had the lead for a lot of the first half, including a 10-point advantage after a monster dunk by Rysheed Jordan. With Jordan leading the way with 21 points and Phil Greene and D'Angelo Harrison adding 16 and 15 respectively, St. John's has the firepower to hang with top teams. At some point, however, St. John's needs to play some defense. After allowing 50 points in the first half, they allowed 55 more in the 2nd half. The absence of shot blocker Chris Obekpa proved to be too much for St. John's to overcome, especially with Daniel Ochefu dominating down low for the Cats.
2. Villanova can score without the 3
If there's any question about Villanova's ability to win the National Championship it's their reliance on the 3-pointer. In their two losses, Villanova made just seven and five triples. Today, they shot 26-34 inside the three point line; that's an incredible 76.4%. Daniel Ochefu and JayVaughn Pinkston were the Wildcats' two leading scorers and neither even attempted a three. In the NCAA Tournament, Villanova will have a game where they get cold from the outside. Great teams can win games in a variety of ways and Villanova proved that today. They are a clear title contender with their ability to work the ball inside to Ochefu and Pinkston knowing that teams can not afford to double team them with great shooters waiting outside the three point line. The depth on the bench of Phil Booth, Josh Hart, and Kris Jenkins make this team scary going in to the Big East and NCAA Tournaments.
3. There could be a rematch
With the Big East regular season over, the seedings are set for the conference tournament. St. John's will face Providence, a team they rolled over in both meetings this season. Meanwhile, Nova will player the winner of Depaul and Creighton, two teams they beat twice this season as well. If both teams win their first matchup, they will face off for a third time this season back at Madison Square Garden. With a healthy Chris Obekpa manning the paint, St. Johns will have a much better chance to pull off the upset, but Villanova shows no signs of slowing down with 12 straight wins and a 29-2 overall record.