While Naji Marshall scored 20 and Tyrique Jones recorded his ninth double-double of the season, it was a couple of unexpected performances that stood out in Xavier’s first conference win of the season over St. John’s.
Sophomore forward Dontarius James had never played more than 15 minutes in a game and had only logged a total of two minutes over Xavier’s last five games. He played 25 minutes at the expense of the struggling Jason Carter, recording six points, eight rebounds, and several standing ovations from the home fans. Highly rated freshman Kyky Tandy was hampered by a foot injury to begin the season but is rounding into form, recording career highs with 12 points, four threes, and 22 minutes.
The Red Storm controlled the beginning of the game, jumping out to an 11-4 advantage and leading much of the first ten minutes of the game. The remainder of the first half was tight as Xavier took a 34-32 lead into halftime. The Musketeers opened the second half with a quick 7-0 run and wound up leading the entire second half. Xavier was up by 13 with about four minutes left, its largest lead of the game.
While both teams entered the game ranking near the bottom of the country in three-point percentage, only St, John’s struggled shooting in this game. The Red Storm went just 24-69 (34.8%) from the field, including a dreadful 1-16 (6.2%) from deep. Despite the shooting struggles, the Johnnies were able to hang around by pressing Xavier into 19 turnovers.
Besides the aforementioned Musketeers, Paul Scruggs added 14 points while Quentin Goodin recorded eight points and five assists. L.J. Figueroa led St. John’s with 17 points and Mustapha Heron added 11. Marcellus Earlington came off of the bench to add 12 points and grab six rebounds.
The win moves Xavier to 12-3 on the season and to 1-1 in Big East play. The Musketeers will return to the court Wednesday, Jan. 8th at home against Seton Hall (10-4, 2-0 in BE). The game will tip at 8:30 p.m. and will air on FS1.
St. John’s falls to 11-4 and is now 0-2 in the conference. The Red Storm will seek their first conference win at Georgetown (10-5, 0-2 in BE) Wednesday for a game that tips at 6:30 p.m. on FS1.