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UConn edges out the win over St. John’s in a tight one, 63-60

It was a back and forth game today that came down to the final shot

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at St. John Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday afternoon, the UConn Huskies made the trip to Madison Square Garden to take on the St. John’s Red Storm for the second leg of their regular season series against each other. The last time both squared off was back in mid-January up in Storrs, Connecticut were the Huskies won in a game that was a close one by a score of 86 to 78 as Adama Sanogo had one of his best games on the season.

The s game was more of the same from first go-around between the two programs as the scenes shifted to the floor of Madison Square Garden and this time around St. John’s put up a tough fight in a game that was a back and forth affair and came down to the final possession as Aaron Wheeler fired a contested three pointer that ultimately missed the basket in the dying seconds of the game. This miss meant that UConn could breathe a sigh of relief as they walked away 63 to 60 winners and complete the season sweep of the Johnnies.

Overall, it was a it was a fun game to watch though shooting wise it was a rather poor day at the office for both teams. UConn despite getting the win had a poor day of shooting the ball at a rate of 36.4% from the floor, a decent more of 36.0% from beyond the arc, and a poor 66.7% from the foul line. St. John’s on the other hand had similar shooting rates today with 33.8% from the floor, 23.8% from beyond the arc, and a dismal 53.8% from the foul line. In all not a particularly banner day for offense though there was some great defensive play by both teams so it might be a case of defense cancelling out offense rather than just poor play.

Even still there were some great individual performances today. Tyrese Martin led the way for the Huskies with a game leading 17 points on 6-13 shooting. Rounding out the UConn scoring was R.J. Cole with 14 points on 4-13 shooting and a perfect 4-4 from the foul line, and Isaiah Whaley with 11 points on 5-6 shooting. Perhaps the biggest contribution was not from scoring but in rebounding for the Huskies as Andre Jackson had himself a day garnering 16 total rebounds and helping the Huskies not only lead the way in boards but by a commanding margin with UConn getting 52 total boards to the Johnnies 41 boards. A margin of 11 is a pretty big chasm and definitely makes up for poor shooting as it creates the opportunity for more possessions and well more scoring chances.

St. John’s on the other hand had quite a few excellent performances on the floor today. Julian Champagnie had a double-double today of 13 points on 5-18 shooting and 11 rebounds. He played well today but definitely took some time to get going. Dylan Addae-Wusu had 12 points on 5-11 shooting but more came in the first half and did not really make an impact in the second half though he did lead the way in assists with 5 assists on the game which made up for the absence of Posh Alexander who is still out injured. Rounding out the scoring is Montez Mathis who was St. John’s leading scorer today with 14 points on 5-6 shooting and 4-5 from the foul line, and rounding out the scoring was Aaron Wheeler who finished today with 13 points on 5-18 shooting in what was another solid performance though marred by that final shot which might be the defining image of this game.

With this game in the books the focus for both teams shifts to the upcoming mid-week action as UConn shifts their attention to Wednesday night and a home game against a return to form Seton Hall side as the Huskies continue to try and keep pace with Providence and Villanova at the top of the conference. St. John’s on the other hand are on the road Wednesday night to take on Xavier in what will be their first match up this season which is the result of rescheduling due to Covid. Both teams could use a win in that won to give their season a boost down the final stretch of the regular season though at this point St. John’s season might more or less be on ice as inconsistent play and general inconsistency have left them listless in the Big East. Still though there is plenty of basketball left to play before we get to the post season so there still might be room to turnaround. In all today was a fun game to watch and should be interesting to see how both UConn and St. John’s fare next time out.