Once again for St. John’s they came close to winning their first Big East game this season and once again ended up falling short of the mark. Like a golfer fluffing that putt to win the round somehow St. John’s managed to lose a game against Xavier tonight that in a lot of ways was a comedy of errors as neither team exactly played their best game or certainly a game that is well worth remembering by either team’s fan bases. To the neutral eye though it was kind of fun to watch in the “Oh how can this twist take a turn,” kind of way.
Still, though, Xavier won tonight’s game over St. John’s on the road at Carnesecca Arena by a score of 73-68. With this win they have reached the twenty win mark on the season and improve to 8-2 in Big East play in their efforts to keep up with the pace of Villanova at the very top of the conference. St. John’s on the other hand move to 0-11 on in conference play as their winless wandering through conference play continues. As a point of order, St. John’s in Big East history has never gone winless in conference play. Even in seasons when they finished with single digit win totals they still managed to pull at least one win out of the hat.
Then again St. John’s fell short tonight after coming so close. Looking at their scorelines they usually lose by single digits so hopefully the win will come soon, but that enter into the hypothetical of hope and we still need to talk about this game.
As for this game, Xavier had a what looks like an off night yet still looked composed, especially down the stretch. If anything the main takeaway from this game is that Xavier can dig deep in an ugly game and be able to seem fine. Nothing too flashy or out of the ordinary but just fine. Though at the end of the game it did seem like both teams were playing a game of hot potato.
Trevon Bluiett kept his double digit points streak alive with a team leading 14 points. His points were rather scattered to the wind by going 4-of-16 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the foul line and in a moment of deep analysis Xavier does struggle when Bluiett is having an off night. This has been an issue before and will most likely be one as the season marches on. It is something that they still need to adapt too.
Other than Bluiett, Quentin Goodin and Kerem Kanter both had decent showings tonight with 13 points each and JP Macura posted a 11 point game though at times looked a little lost at sea out there. Macura also took an ugly hit from Bashir Ahmed midway through the first half, but more on that much later.
As a team, Xavier shot the ball at a rate of 46% from the floor, 31% from three point range, and 77% from the foul line. They also won the battle on the boards with 36 rebounds to St. John’s 31 rebounds. They also got significant production from their bench with 15 points coming from Xavier’s pine tonight.
On the St. John’s side of things it was odd tonight. On one hand Shamorie Ponds shot the lights out after two dour games prior to tonight. Ponds finished tonight with a game leading 31 points. He was pretty much the bulk of St. John’s points with his efforts and the efforts of Bashir Ahmed and Marvin Clark II being their only scoring options at the end of the first half.
Speaking of Ahmed, he finished tonight with 12 points but also fouled out of tonight’s game and by the midway mark in the first half already had three fouls with the third coming from a hacking movement on JP Macura. He also had a double-double night with 10 rebounds as well. He was not the only Johnny night to foul out, as Amar Alibegovic also fouled out tonight after a sterling performance of 3-pointers and fouling out with much of the second half left to play. Tariq Owens also flirted with fouling out finishing the night with 4 fouls.
Rounding out the scoring options, Marvin Clark II as mentioned was one of three options on the score sheet at the end of the first half, finished the game with 19 points on the game.
As a team, St. John’s shot the ball tonight at a rate of 44% from the floor, 32% from three point range, and 63% from the foul. The mark from the foul line pretty much was one of a number of reason as to why St. John’s did not win this game especially at the end when the Johnnies were making concurrent trips to the foul they could not get the gift of charity from the line. St. John’s managed to once again get at a team with and force turnover with 16 turnovers over the course of the game. They turned those turnovers into 18 points which is usually a positive thing.
That now makes it 11 straight losses for St. John’s and feel so close yet far away from a win.