NEW YORK -- A quick take on No. 16 Arizona's 81-72 win over St. John's on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in the second semifinal of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.
What it means: The Red Storm suffer their first loss of the season, in their first game at MSG after winning three games against mid-major competition at Carnesecca Arena last week. For six of the seven players in the St. John's rotation, it was their first game at the Garden; they proved they could play on the big stage, but couldn't close out the more experienced Wildcats (4-0) down the stretch.
The skinny: St. John's coach Steve Lavin was worried about his team displaying some nerves, but the young Red Storm looked comfortable on the big stage from the get-go. They did trail by as many as nine early, 19-10, but went on a 12-2 run to pull into the lead midway at the 9:24 mark. St. John's led by as many as six in the first half, 32-26, but gave the lead back and trailed 44-41 at the break.
St. John's fell behind by seven early in the second half, but responded with a 19-4 run, taking their biggest lead, 66-58, with 7:20 to play. But Arizona recovered from there. Leading scorer Nurideen Lindsey (18 points) fouled out with 4:02 left to play, just after the Wildcats had retaken the lead, and St. John's trailed the rest of the way.
Solomon Hill led five Wildcats in double figures with 15 points.
Killer stat: Arizona shot 14-for-28 from beyond the 3-point arc -- that is awfully hard for any team to overcome. St. John's was just 3-for-8 from long range.
What's next: St. John's will play Texas A&M on Friday at 4:30 p.m. in the consolation game of the tournament. Arizona will take on Mississippi State in the championship at 6:30 p.m. ESPN2 will televise both games.