College Basketball Nation: Amir Garrett

Numbers to Know: Tuesday recap

January, 16, 2013
Player of the Night -- Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss
Rather quietly, Henderson leads the SEC at 19.1 PPG. But more people got to know the transfer from Utah thanks to his buzzer-beater last night. Henderson’s launch from 35 feet sent the game into overtime, but that’s not all he did in the 89-79 win against Vanderbilt. He finished with 26 points, and is now averaging 23.0 PPG in conference play.

Scorer of the Night -- Doug McDermott, Creighton
Playing against the school to which he had originally committed, McDermott scored a game-high 31 points as Creighton beat Northern Iowa 79-68. That’s his fifth 30-point game this season, most in nation.Thanks to 70 points in his past two games, McDermott moved into second in the nation at 24.0 PPG. Statistically, McDermott’s season is starting to look an awful lot like Glen Rice’s senior year at Michigan in 1989 (see chart).

Freshman of the Night -- Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
Noel finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, six blocks and four steals, leading Kentucky to a 75-65 win against Tennessee. He continues to rank in the top 10 in the nation in blocks (fourth) and steals (eighth). No player has done that in at least the past 15 years. Kentucky is 9-2 when he has three blocks or more, and just 2-3 otherwise.

Bench Player of the Night -- Amir Garrett, St. John's
Fresh off a scoreless outing against Georgetown, Garrett provided a spark off the bench as the Red Storm knocked off Notre Dame 67-63. He finished with 11 points, three rebounds, two assists and three blocks. St. John’s has now won five straight at home against Notre Dame, despite the Irish being ranked each time.

Stat of the Night -- Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin upset Indiana at home 64-59 to win its 11th straight against the Hoosiers. That’s tied for the second longest losing streak Indiana has ever had against an opponent. Purdue won 12 straight against Indiana from 1908-14. Wisconsin is also the first team to win five straight at Indiana since 1923.
What it means: Steve Lavin is back, and his team is off to a promising start.

After missing almost all of last season while recovering from prostate cancer, Lavin officially made his return to the sideline Tuesday afternoon. And St. John’s won its regular-season opener against Detroit, 77-74, at Carnesecca Arena.

Three highly touted freshmen made their St. John’s debuts -- forwards Jakarr Sampson and Christian Jones, and center Chris Obekpa. All three made positive contributions -- particularly Obekpa. But the key to the victory was the play of three returning sophomores -- D’Angelo Harrison, Phil Greene and Amir Garrett (see below).

The skinny: This game was very tight for most of the first half. The score was tied at 25 when Detroit first took control, reeling off nine straight to make it 34-25. The Titans led 37-29 at intermission.

Trailing 60-53 in the second half, St. John’s went on a 14-2 run, retaking the lead for the first time since the opening half with just under five minutes remaining. Down the stretch, a more experienced Detroit team unraveled, while the younger St. John’s squad showed poise and resilience.

St. John’s did get a scare in the game’s final sequence. Detroit scored a bucket, St. John’s gave the ball away, and Detroit’s Juwan Howard Jr. suddenly had a 3-point shot that would have tied the game. But the shot was off.

Star watch: Harrison, St. John’s leading returning scorer, came off the bench -- he was benched entirely for the team’s second exhibition game last week because the coaching staff felt he was having trouble controlling his emotions. Harrison looked lethargic when he first entered the game, but ratcheted up the intensity after halftime, when he scored 15 of his team-high 22 points.

Greene finished with a career-high 20, displaying an improved perimeter shot. Garrett had a double-double, with 15 points and 11 rebounds. And Obekpa had 7 points, 11 rebounds and 8 blocked shots. (That's a St. John's single-game record, breaking the previous mark of seven, set by Robert Werdann in 1989.)

Number crunch: St. John’s struggled on the glass, giving up 19 offensive rebounds and 20 second-chance points. But the Red Storm had 12 blocked shots as a team. Obekpa is going to be a game-changer on defense.

What's next: St. John’s heads to South Carolina to participate in the Charleston Classic. The Red Storm will play the host team, College of Charleston, on Thursday at 5 p.m. ET. They’ll play two more games there as well, on Friday and Sunday.

Highlights: St. John's 61, Notre Dame 58

February, 25, 2012

Amir Garrett hits a clutch bucket with under 10 seconds remaining, and St. John's defeats No. 18 Notre Dame, 61-58, ending a nine-game win streak for the Fighting Irish.

Monday recap: Lamb key in UConn victory

February, 21, 2012
Player of the Night Jeremy Lamb
This was supposed to be Lamb’s season, but the preseason All-American was averaging just 15.6 points per game in Big East play coming into Monday night. Shabazz Napier may have hit the big shot, but Lamb was the key to Connecticut’s 73-70 overtime win over Villanova. He scored a career-high 32 points, as the Huskies rallied from an 18-point deficit.

Scoring Star - Parker Smith
Smith scored a school-record 46 points as North Florida beat Mercer 75-66. It’s the second-most points scored in a game this season behind only Kevin Murphy’s 50. It also tied an Atlantic Sun record for a conference game. Coming off a 1-for-11 performance from 3-point range on Saturday, Smith went 11-for-17 from beyond the arc. That’s the most 3s in a game this season.

Freshman of the Night – Amir Garrett
Garrett entered Monday as the sixth-leading scorer for St. John's, and lowest scorer in the all-freshman starting lineup. But in a 79-72 win over DePaul, Garrett poured in a career-high 18 points and nine rebounds. Maybe it has something to do with pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. Garrett was a 22nd-round pick of the Reds, who gave him a $1 million signing bonus.

Record Breaker – Antwan Carter
Longwood came up short in a 66-52 loss to Norfolk State, but the Lancers got a new all-time leading scorer in the process. Carter scored 19 points to give him 1,808 for his career. That surpassed Kevin Jefferson’s school record. A more familiar name is third on that list: Former Portland Trail Blazer Jerome Kersey.

Free Throw Star – Pierre Jackson
Jackson scored 18 of his career-high 25 points in the second half as Baylor overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to beat Texas 77-72. Jackson went 6-for-6 from the line in the final 30 seconds to seal the win. He hit all 12 of his free throws on the night.

Conference Power Rankings: Big East

December, 27, 2011
Before conference play gets underway, let's take another attempt at ranking all 16 teams in the Big East:

    1. Syracuse: The Orange head in to league play unblemished and barely challenged. Syracuse has won games by an average of 21.7 points in the nonconference season.

    2. Louisville: Russ Smith has provided a much-needed offensive spark for the Cardinals, scoring 23 against Western Kentucky. The Cards still haven’t jelled entirely, but the defense has kept Louisville alive.

    3. Connecticut: The Huskies beat a good Fairfield team to end their nonconference schedule but will have to make do in the first three league games without Jim Calhoun. The coach will begin his suspension from NCAA sanctions this week.

    4. Georgetown: The eye-opening win against Memphis proved how good the Hoyas are getting … and how much the Tigers are struggling. Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson continue to lead Georgetown.

    5. Marquette: The Golden Eagles responded well from the upset against LSU with a win against a decent Milwaukee team. They’ll have one more nonleague game -- against floundering Vanderbilt -- before heading into conference play.

    6. West Virginia: No shame in the Mountaineers’ overtime loss to Baylor in Vegas. If anything, the loss proves how good West Virginia is becoming, thanks largely to the continued great play from Kevin Jones.

    7. Seton Hall: The Pirates own an eight-game win streak and an 11-1 record. They’ll know how good they really are in a hurry. Seton Hall opens Big East play at the Carrier Dome against No. 1 Syracuse.

    8. Cincinnati: Maybe the brawl has refocused the Bearcats. Cincinnati, using a 4-guard offense because of the suspension of Yancy Gates, barely missed becoming the first team in school history to score 100 points in three consecutive games, falling five points short of the record in a blowout of Chicago State.

    9. Pittsburgh: The unthinkable has happened twice now at Pitt, with the Panthers dropping their second home loss of the season, this time to Wagner. It’s the first time the Panthers have lost to a Northeast Conference opponent in 70 games, and hardly the confidence boost Pitt needs as it readies for the Big East.

    10. Providence: The Friars’ improvement is officially evident in the state of Rhode Island. Providence beat URI on the road for the first time in its past five tries. Ed Cooley takes his team to New York for the league opener against St. John’s.

    11. DePaul: The Blue Demons’ improvement continues as Oliver Purnell has DePaul off to its best start (9-3) in 12 years. In Cleveland Melvin, DePaul has a legit Big East talent.

    12. Villanova: The Wildcats know one thing heading in to Big East play -- they need Maalik Wayns. Nova recently led American by just two before Wayns, sidelined with a virus, came into the game. The Cats won by 21.

    13. Notre Dame: The good news: The Irish scored 106 points in a game. The bad news: It was against Sacred Heart. How Notre Dame will do offensively against the likes of Pitt -- the Irish’s first league opponent -- will be a little more telling.

    14. St. John’s: The Red Storm finally got some good news -- Amir Garrett, one of three freshmen who didn’t qualify academically, was cleared and played in his first game last week. St. John’s needs him with Nurideen Lindsey choosing to transfer.

    15. Rutgers: Even in a win, the Scarlet Knights have problems. Rutgers beat NJIT by 24 but trailed early in the second half against the undermanned opponent. That on-and-off-the-gas-pedal attitude won’t fly this week when Rutgers finishes its nonconference slate against Florida.

    16. South Florida: Things continue to look bleak in South Florida, where the Bulls completed their nonconference play with a loss to Southern Miss. Next up: Connecticut.