After a gutsy win in Chicago over DePaul last Monday, the UConn Huskies entered this afternoon’s contest in an improved position in the AP Top 25 Poll at #23. St. John’s was seeking vengeance on the Big East after their nail-biting loss to Marquette in Milwaukee, and Mike Anderson’s squad seemed to carry that energy into this game in Storrs.
St. John’s, who hasn’t won in Storrs (or Hartford) since January 2000, showed UConn that things are a little different in the Big East from when the Huskies were last a conference member. UConn’s first lesson learned in their reentrance to the Big East: There are no “gimme” games. Each matchup is a dog fight, and tonight’s contest was no different.
The Red Storm topped UConn 74-70 behind the efforts of 5 “Johnnies” scoring in double-figures. Although it was a large cast of offensive support for St. John’s, 6’6 Junior Marcellus Earlington kept St. John’s in the game down the stretch. He shot 3-3 from three-point land while totaling 15 points. 6’0 Freshman Posh Alexander led the way for the Red Storm in scoring with 18 points, while adding 6 assists to an efficient night from the floor for the rookie guard. Alexander’s smooth style of play and tough mentality molds itself perfectly to what Mike Anderson is trying to build in Queens, and typical of what we have come to see out of Big East guards.
Although R.J. Cole provided offensive fire-power for the Huskies with 18 points, UConn’s struggles down the stretch with free throws proved to be the “nail in the coffin” for them. Tyrese Martin and Adama Sanogo provided offensive assistance with 14 and 12 points, respectively, but Martin’s missed free throws when down 71-70 led to a St. John’s scoring run that the Huskies couldn’t match. In addition, UConn’s rebounding presence was matched by St. John’s as both teams had 34 rebounds, which was apart of St. John’s scouting report to limit UConn on the offensive and defensive glass. The elite defensive-effort we’ve seen from the Huskies this season appeared to be lacking, particularly down the stretch.
Dan Hurley on UConn's loss to St. John's:— UConn Videos (@SNYUConn) January 18, 2021
"Brutal loss...they were tougher than us especially down the stretch of that game" pic.twitter.com/KXSbCrfFYm
UConn looks to pick up the pieces from this upset against #12 Creighton in Omaha on Saturday, while St. John’s will travel to Chicago to face off against DePaul on Wednesday.