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St. John’s finds a way to beat Georgia Tech

The Red Storm certainly made things interesting in Miami.

NCAA Basketball: Legends Classic Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

St. John’s headed down to Miami this weekend fresh off of their midweek win over Maryland-Eastern Shore to take part in the Hoophall Miami Invitational. Waiting for the Red Storm on the court was a midday date with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The Yellow Jackets were coming into this one with a record of 4-2 on the season fresh off a loss to Northwestern earlier in the week.

After the end of 40 minutes of play, St. John’s found a way to defeat the Yellow Jackets, 76-73.

It was a game that certainly did not lack in moments, as St. John’s found ways to nearly lose the game before finding a way to dig in and see the game out for a win. Then again, it was largely in part to the Herculean efforts of Shamorie Ponds. Ponds posted a 37-point effort and made up a large chunk of the Red Storm offense. On the flip side, there were times when the rest of the team was colder than a winter in Siberia.

In particular was their efforts in the first half, where even the concept of a basket was a foreign concept. At the end of the first half, the Yellow Jackets were winning 38-29 while the Johnnies were shot 30 percent from the floor to Georgia Tech’s 48 percent. Everyone but Ponds was a either in single digits or had nothing.

Still though, much like the game against VCU, St. John’s found a way to stay in this game when it mattered most. They also showed that games are not won in the first half. The second half showed a change in the team’s approach, as they tightened up and played with a more aggressive footing to get out on the break. The numbers show the improvement too, with St. John’s shooting at a much better 46 percent over the 20 minutes of play to Georgia Tech’s 43 percent.

It was a bit more rounded performance as well with Justin Simon playing a much more crucial role on offense and L.J. Figueroa coming to life as well. Still though, without Ponds, St. John’s may have left this one in the lurch. They were able to also force the hand of Georgia Tech as well with keeping Jose Alvarado quiet. Tech did come to play with a wide of array of options, be it Brandon Alston, James Banks III, or Moses Wright being the rotating secondary scoring option for Josh Pastner’s team.

As mentioned, Shamorie Ponds put up 37 points on 10-for-17 shooting and 13-for-15 from the foul line. He was the heart of the team today but along with his efforts was the 13 point games by LJ Figueroa and Justin Simon both of whom came on strong in the second half of play. Outside of these three though, it was a quiet game from the remainder of Chris Mullin’s roster. Especially Mustapha Heron and Marvin Clark II, both of whom scored a combined 11 points, with 8 coming from Heron.

Speaking of Clark, he fouled out for the third consecutive game. He’s now averaging 4.3 fouls per game this season. At some point, he may need to be rotated a bit more to mitigate his foul issues. In terms of fouls in general, Clark II, Mikey Dixon, and Bryan Trimble Jr. were the three Red Storm players who ran into foul trouble this game. Ponds and Mullin also received technicals in this one.

As a team, St. John’s shot the ball at a rate of 38 percent from the floor, 26 percent from beyond the arc, and 77 percent from the foul line. They were outrebounded 35-30 outscored in bench points 11-2.

On the Georgia Tech side of things, the Yellow Jackets had a much more rounded approach to the game. Jose Alvarado was the leading scorer today with 17 points, but the previously mentioned James Banks III, Brandon Alston, and Moses Wright all had solid games today as well. Banks III and Alston put up 14 points apiece while Wright had a nice and tidy 12.

As a team, Georgia Tech shot the ball at a rate of 45 percent from the floor, 19 percent from beyond the arc, and 88 percent from the foul line. On another day with a stat line like this and a well-rounded offense, Georgia Tech would have won. But man, basketball is such a strange sport at times.

With this one in the books, St. John’s improves to 7-0 on the season and now turn their attention to Mount St. Mary’s next week.