St. John's falls short vs. Duke, Coach K

January, 25, 2015
Jan 25
NEW YORK -- St. John's almost crashed Coach K's party. Almost.

The Red Storm had a golden opportunity Sunday, playing No. 5-ranked Duke on national TV, with Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski going for career win No. 1,000.

They had a 10-point lead with eight minutes and change remaining, but couldn't seal the deal, losing 77-68 in front of a sellout crowd of 19,812 at Madison Square Garden.

"Obviously it’s disappointing," St. John's guard D'Angelo Harrison said. "We had the lead, and they went on a run, that’s what won the game. We’ll learn from this."

Harrison, playing with calf and shoulder injuries, was not himself for the third game in a row, shooting 5-for-14 and finishing with just 12 points.

His teammates picked up the slack though -- particularly Sir'Dominic Pointer (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Rysheed Jordan (18 points). But 16 of Jordan's 18 points came in the first half. And after shooting 17-for-31 in the opening 20 minutes (54.8 percent), the Red Storm were just 10-for-30 (33.3 percent) in the final 20.

Tired legs certainly could have been a factor. All five starters played at least 35 minutes, with only Jamal Branch seeing any significant time off the bench.

[+] Enlarge Jahlil Okafor
Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY SportsSt. John's Chris Obekpa and Sir'Dominic Pointer made life difficult for Duke and big man Jahlil Okafor much of the afternoon.
Krzyzewski used nine players, and eight of them got at least 10 minutes.

"We missed a lot of open shots," Pointer said. "They gave us open shots, and we didn’t make them."

"I thought we just missed some easy looks," St. John's coach Steve Lavin said. "We had some good shots, they just didn’t go in -- the ones that were going in in the first half didn’t go in in the second half.

"Overall, big picture, if you’ve followed our team over these past three weeks you can see we’re making progress."

St. John's passed the eye test Sunday -- after watching the Red Storm go toe-to-toe with Duke, you can't help but say they belong in the NCAA tournament.

But here's the thing. They've actually lost five of the seven games they've played the past three and a half weeks. They're currently 2-4 in the Big East, putting them in eighth place, and probably wouldn't make the field of 68 if it were Selection Sunday.

A win over Duke would have given St. John's résumé a serious boost. A narrow defeat won't do nearly as much.

"This was a big game," Harrison said. "We fell short. But we're worried about the Big East. That's what we have to take care of."

If Coach K were in charge of the NCAA bracket, St. John's would probably get in.

"It was a heck of a game," Krzyzewski said. "I thought for 10 minutes we outplayed them, and then for 20 minutes they just killed us with their athleticism.

"We played great in the last 10 minutes. I'm not sure I've ever been a part of a game like that. That's kind of nuts, huh?"

Krzyzewski was emotional in his postgame news conference, talking about earning the historic win in Madison Square Garden against the Red Storm.

"To do it here -- just to win here, but to win the 1,000th -- you've got to be a lucky guy," Krzyzewski said. "I like my place, Cameron [Indoor Stadium], but this is a magical place. And we beat a really good team and a storied program that I've had respect for since I was a player at Army a long time ago.

"Their program has stood the test of time, and so has ours. So to win in this setting against a storied program makes it even better."

Rapid Reaction: Duke 77, St. John's 68

January, 25, 2015
Jan 25
NEW YORK -- A few quick thoughts on No. 5 Duke's 77-68 win over St. John's on Sunday at Madison Square Garden:

What it means: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski collects career win No. 1,000 -- but it certainly wasn't easy. St. John's led for much of the game, but couldn't close the upset out.

The Red Storm fall to 13-6 overall (2-4 in Big East). The Blue Devils rise to 17-2 overall (4-2 in ACC).

The turning point: After falling behind 21-10, St. John's rallied to take a 43-39 halftime lead. Rysheed Jordan and Sir'Dominic Pointer carried the Red Storm, scoring 16 and 13 first-half points, respectively.

Pointer's putback with 14:08 remaining gave St. John's its largest lead, 53-43. The Red Storm still led by 10, 61-51, with just over eight minutes remaining when Duke launched an 18-2 run with consecutive three-point plays by Quinn Cook, Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor. Jones' 3-pointer with 1:16 left was the dagger, putting the Blue Devils up 72-65. They finished St. John's off from there.

Star watch: Pointer played arguably the best game of his St. John's career, finishing with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks and 3 steals. Jordan finished with 18 points, just two of them coming in the second half. D'Angelo Harrison, who has been dealing with a calf injury, scored 12 points -- well under his average of 19.5

Jones finished with a team-high 22 points and 6 assists for Duke. Okafor had 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Number crunch: St. John's shot a blistering 54.8 percent in the first half (17-for-31). But the Red Storm couldn't keep it up in the second half, shooting just 33.3 percent (10-for-30).

What's next: St. John's will play at Creighton on Wednesday at 9 p.m. Duke will play at No. 8 Notre Dame on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Seton Hall slide continues against DePaul

January, 22, 2015
Jan 22
Sterling GibbsJim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsDePaul forced Sterling Gibbs into an awful shooting night and stunned No. 24 Seton Hall.
NEWARK, N.J. -- "We just got knocked back down to Earth, that's all. We were on could nine for the last couple of weeks."

Those were the postgame thoughts of Seton Hall forward Brandon Mobley, after his team's stunning 64-60 loss to DePaul on Thursday.

The Pirates did climb pretty high -- all the way to No. 19 in the AP poll three Mondays ago, their highest national ranking since 2001. Back-to-back wins over then-No. 15 St. John's and No. 6 Villanova did the trick.

But back-to-back home defeats at the hands of Butler and DePaul will send now-No. 24 Seton Hall back to the region of the unranked.

"The ranking's been great," Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. "[But] I think losing three out of four is motivating this team."

[+] EnlargeJaren Sina
Mitchell Layton/Getty ImagesNo. 24 Seton Hall's prayers went unanswered Thursday night.
This game was within the Pirates' grasp. They bounced back from a 10-point second-half deficit to take an eight-point lead, 55-47, with just under six minutes left.

But they couldn't put the Blue Demons away. And with a chance to tie the score in the closing seconds, trailing by two, reserve Stephane Manga drove into the lane and turned the ball over on an attempted dish to Angel Delgado.

"We were trying to come over and call a timeout," Willard said. "Even then, [Manga] got right to the front of the rim -- he probably should have just laid it in or try to get fouled. But guys who aren't used to calling timeouts probably don't call 'em."

But truth be told, a win would have been near-miraculous considering Seton Hall's offensive performance. The Pirates shot 18-for-60 from the field (30 percent), 1-for-16 from beyond the arc, and missed 12 free throws.

Delgado was a monster, with 19 points and 19 rebounds. But the Pirates' other four starters shot a combined 9-for-42. Sterling Gibbs, the third-leading scorer in the Big East, was 2-for-16. As a team, Seton Hall made only one shot outside the paint in the entire game -- a Jaren Sina 3-pointer late in the second half.

"We didn't shoot the ball well, but I think we got a lot of good shots," Sina said. "I think it was just one of those days."

Said Willard: "I expected us to be a little bit rusty coming off eight days [off] -- I didn't expect us to be that much. But give them credit. They did a good job on Sterling, they did a good job of getting out on us."

DePaul now finds itself, believe it or not, at the top of the Big East standings -- 5-2 in conference play, tied with Georgetown and Providence. Seton Hall, meanwhile, has fallen back to the middle of the pack at 3-3.

But remember, this is a young team. Willard started two freshmen and a sophomore Thursday. And preseason Big East East Rookie of the Year Isaiah Whitehead has missed the past seven games because of a stress fracture in his foot.

"We miss him greatly," Willard said. "We don't have anybody else right now that can kind of take a load off the way he can."

Willard indicated Whitehead probably will miss at least three more games. That means a potential return Feb. 3 in a rematch at DePaul, with plenty of season left to make a difference.

"To be honest with you, I thought we'd be going through this a lot earlier, especially without Isaiah," Willard said. "I'm unbelievably disappointed to be 3-3 because we had two home games, but at the same time to be without one of our best players and be 3-3, it's not a bad spot to be in.

"I really believe when we get him back it's just gonna kind of give us a boost we desperately need."

Maybe even a boost back into the top 25.

Rapid Reaction: DePaul 64, Seton Hall 60

January, 22, 2015
Jan 22
NEWARK, N.J. -- A few quick thoughts on No. 24 Seton Hall's 64-60 loss to DePaul on Thursday at the Prudential Center:

What it means: Seton Hall is in a midseason swoon, and needs to right the ship fast.

The Pirates have now lost three of their past four games, including back-to-back home losses to Butler and DePaul. They can kiss their national ranking goodbye, at least for now.

Seton Hall drops to 13-5 overall, and 3-3 in the Big East. DePaul improves to 11-9 overall, and 5-2 in the Big East. Shockingly, the Blue Demons are now in a three-way tie for first place in the conference with Georgetown and Providence.

The turning point: This one was ugly from the start. Seton Hall fell behind by as many as 10 points in the first half but closed to within 36-33 at intermission.

DePaul extended its lead back to 10 early in the second half, but Seton Hall answered with a 12-0 run to go up 45-43 with 14:23 left. The Pirates opened up their largest lead, 55-47, on a Jaren Sina 3-pointer with 5:46 left but couldn't put away the Blue Demons.

Trailing 62-60 with 16.3 seconds left, Seton Hall had a chance to tie the score -- Stephane Manga drove into the paint and tried to dish the ball off to Angel Delgado but turned it over. DePaul's Rashaun Stimage was fouled and missed the second of two free throws, but teammate Myke Henry secured the offensive rebound and subsequently hit the game-sealing freebie.

Star watch: Delgado did everything he could for Seton Hall in this game, posting a monster double-double -- 19 points and 19 rebounds. Sterling Gibbs, the third-leading scorer in the Big East (17.2 ppg) scored only eight points, shooting 2-for-16 from the field.

Henry and Billy Garrett Jr. had 14 points apiece for DePaul.

Number crunch: Believe it or not, Seton Hall made only one shot from outside the paint in the entire game -- the Sina 3-pointer. The Pirates shot 18-for-60 from the field (30 percent), 1-for-16 from beyond the arc, and 23-for-35 from the foul line. Yikes.

Also, there were an astounding 55 fouls called in the game -- 29 on DePaul, 26 on Seton Hall.

What's next: Seton Hall plays at Butler on Sunday at 3 p.m. DePaul plays at Xavier on Saturday at noon.

W2W4: Seton Hall vs. DePaul

January, 22, 2015
Jan 22
Here are three things to watch for when No. 24-ranked Seton Hall (13-4, 3-2 Big East) plays DePaul (10-9, 4-2 Big East) on Thursday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m., and you can watch the game on Fox Sports 1.

Got rust? Seton Hall remained in the Top 25 this week despite losing at home to Butler last Tuesday. That was the Pirates' only game last week, meaning they had eight days off -- an awfully long layoff for January. We'll see if it takes them a little while to get going against DePaul.

Isaiah Whitehead, the preseason Big East Rookie of the Year, is expected to miss his seventh game in a row due to a stress fracture in his foot. But he should be close to returning -- we'll get an update from Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard on Thursday.

Fab frosh: Whitehead was the Seton Hall freshman who got the most attention coming into the season, but teammate Angel Delgado may wind up winning postseason Big East Rookie of the Year. The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 8.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game -- tied with Butler's Kameron Woods as the leading rebounder in the conference.

Delgado was a big-time recruit as well, ranked 48th in the ESPN 100. He's shooting 61.8 percent from the field, is the leading offensive rebounder in the conference (3.6 per game), and is tied for sixth in blocked shots with teammate Brandon Mobley (1.4 per game). But he's only shooting 38.5 percent from the foul line -- that's got to improve.

More on Blue Demons: Believe it or not, DePaul would move into a tie for first place with a win Thursday night. The Blue Demons haven't won four Big East games in a season since 2007-08, and they still have a dozen regular-season games left to play.

They are coming off an overtime home win over St. John's on Sunday. They've also beaten Marquette, Xavier and Creighton, and lost to Villanova and Georgetown.

Four players average in double figures, led by 6-foot-6 junior forward Myke Henry (13.3 ppg) and 6-foot-6 sophomore guard Billy Garrett Jr. (13.3 ppg), last season's Big East Rookie of the Year.

DePaul is the best free-throw shooting team in the Big East, at 76 percent. Seton Hall, on the other hand, is the worst, at 64.8 percent.

St. John's, desperate for W, tops Marquette

January, 21, 2015
Jan 21
WilsonNate Shron/Getty ImagesSt. John's blocked 13 shots en route to a sloppy Big East victory over Marquette.
NEW YORK -- Winning ugly beats losing any day of the week.

St. John's did what it had to do Wednesday, defeating Marquette at Madison Square Garden, 60-57. A 1-5 start in the Big East would have been a big hill to climb, in terms of the Red Storm being a viable NCAA tournament candidate. Instead the Red Storm are 2-4 -- with plenty of work to do, but their goal still well within reach.

"I’m pleased that we were able to find a way to win, manufacture a W," St. John's coach Steve Lavin said. "Sometimes you just need to find a way to get a W so you can feel good about yourself and get the pep back in the step when you have a stretch where you feel snake-bitten or down on your luck."

St. John's entered this game having lost four of five, and luck didn't have a whole lot to do with it. The stretch included an 11-point loss to Seton Hall, an 18-point loss to Villanova, and blowing an 11-point second-half lead at DePaul.

[+] EnlargePointer
Nate Shron/Getty ImagesSir'Dominic Pointer had a monster game, leading St. John's to a come-from-behind win at MSG.
But the Red Storm showed guts Wednesday, with leading scorer D'Angelo Harrison having one of the worst games of his outstanding career, shooting 3-for-18 from the floor.

Harrison has played with a calf injury the past two games, and it may have hampered him against Marquette.

"He doesn't have the lift [on his shot]," Lavin said. "I think it's clearly affecting him." Harrison was not available after the game.

But fellow senior Sir'Dominic Pointer picked up the slack, with about as good an all-around game as you'll see in college hoops this season. Pointer finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and six blocked shots, seemingly in the middle of every big sequence.

"I thought Pointer had a magnificent game," Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. "I thought he was really the key to their win. He did everything."

Pointer was the key, but he did have help. Rysheed Jordan also scored 15 points, Phil Greene IV chipped in 11, and Chris Obekpa had 10 rebounds and five blocked shots. St. John's shot just 36.7 percent from the field, but limited Marquette to 31.7.

Most importantly, with the game tied 52-52 coming out of the final media timeout, the Red Storm made more plays down the stretch -- as the more experienced group, playing at home, should.

"We've got a good team," Pointer said, when asked what he learned from this game.

He's right, in one sense. St. John's starting five can match up with just about anybody.

But they're also a flawed team. Each member of the starting five played at least 35 minutes Wednesday except Obekpa, who played 31.

Reserves Jamal Branch, Amar Alibegovic and Joey De La Rosa combined for 22 minutes, one shot attempt and two points. (Marquette outscored St. John's 21-2 off the bench.) And it was a rare night when the Red Storm weren't working around foul trouble.

St. John's lack of depth is a problem that isn't going away.

But that's an issue for another day. A win is a win, regardless of style points.

Rapid Reaction: St. John's 60, Marquette 57

January, 21, 2015
Jan 21
NEW YORK -- A few quick thoughts on St. John's 60-57 win over Marquette on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden:

What it means: Exhale, St. John's fans.

The Red Storm did not play very well but avoided another bad loss at home, facing a team that should finish near the bottom of the Big East.

St. John's improves to 13-5 overall and 2-4 in the conference. Marquette drops to 10-8 overall and also 2-4 in the conference.

The turning point: The first half was absolutely brutal to watch, with both teams struggling to make anything positive happen. St. John's jumped out an eight-point lead at one point, 17-9, but Marquette closed to within two at the break.

Marquette's Matt Carlino caught fire in the opening few minutes of the second half, drilling four 3-pointers to give the Golden Eagles an eight-point lead, 43-35. But St. John's responded with a 9-0 run, including two Rysheed Jordan treys, to go back in front 44-43 with nine minutes remaining. The teams were neck-and-neck from there. Trailing 60-57 with less than 10 seconds left, Carlino had a chance to send the game to overtime, but a long 3-point attempt rimmed out.

Star watch: D'Angelo Harrison didn't look hampered by his calf injury but had his second consecutive very poor shooting game, finishing with 11 points after going 3-for-18 from the floor. Sir'Dominic Pointer stuffed the box score with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 6 blocked shots. Jordan also finished with 15 points.

Carlino had 21 points for Marquette.

Number crunch: St. John's did bring it on the defensive end. The Red Storm, ranked No. 6 in the nation in blocked shots per game (6.5), had 13 blocks against the Golden Eagles.

What's next: St. John's hosts No. 5 Duke on Sunday afternoon back here at the Garden, with Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski going for career win No. 1,000 -- must-see TV.

Marquette hosts Georgetown on Saturday.

W2W4: St. John's vs. Marquette

January, 21, 2015
Jan 21
Here are three things to watch for when St. John's (12-5, 1-4 Big East) plays Marquette (10-7, 2-3 Big East) on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m., and you can watch the game on Fox Sports 1.

Crunch time: In second-to-last place in the Big East and coming off a very disappointing loss at DePaul on Sunday, St. John's desperately needs to get back in the win column. The Red Storm are currently projected to miss the NCAA Tournament once again according to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi.

St. John's hosts No. 5-ranked Duke on Sunday, so a loss to Marquette very well could lead to another three-game losing streak as we approach the end of January. That also would mean six losses in seven games for a senior-laden team expected to make the Big Dance at the very least.

Sore subject: St. John's leading scorer D'Angelo Harrison, currently 18th in the country in points per game (20), was limited by a calf injury Sunday, scoring just 11 points on 2-for-10 shooting from the field.

Harrison is expected to play against Marquette, but St. John's will have a hard time beating anyone if he isn't at or close to full strength.

More on Golden Eagles: Speaking of Duke, former Blue Devils guard and assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski is now the head coach at Marquette. He replaced Buzz Williams, who moved on to Virginia Tech. Wojciechowski's new club is coming off a four-point loss at Xavier on Saturday. In conference play, the Golden Eagles have also lost at DePaul (by three) and at Georgetown (by six), and won at home versus Providence (by nine) and Creighton (by one).

Four players average in double figures, led by 6-foot-2 senior guard Matt Carlino (13.5 ppg). A transfer from BYU in his first season with Marquette, Carlino is shooting 42.1 percent from 3-point range. In the loss to Xavier over the weekend, he poured in 27 points, shooting 6-for-9 from beyond the arc. He's averaging 20.7 points in the team's past three games.

Freshman guard Duane Wilson (11.3 ppg), sophomore center Luke Fischer (11.2 ppg) and senior forward Juan Anderson (10.5 ppg) are the team's next three top scorers. Fischer, at 6-foot-11 and 245 pounds, is a handful -- St. John's needs Chris Obekpa to avoid foul trouble in this game even more so than usual.

Guard Deonte Burton, the Golden Eagles' top returning scorer from a year ago, elected to transfer to Iowa State after the first semester.

Marquette shoots 46 percent from the field as a team, ranking them 68th in Division I. And they're just as good as St. John's at forcing turnovers -- both teams are among the top 20 in the country in steals per game at 8.6. But the Golden Eagles are one of the worst rebounding teams in D-I -- ranked 328th (out of 351 schools) at 30.4 per game.

Bracketology: St. John's in, but barely

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
The latest edition of's Bracketology, published Thursday, has St. John's as the very last at-large team in the NCAA Tournament.

The Red Storm were out of the projected field of 68 teams as of Monday, but moved back in after their 83-70 win at Providence on Wednesday.

ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi still has seven Big East teams in the field, the most of any conference. The ACC and Big 12 have six teams in.

Seton Hall is projected as a No. 5 seed. St. John's is projected as a No. 11 seed, facing NC State in one of four play-in games.

Three other local teams are featured in the bracket. Iona, currently in first place in the MAAC, was given a No. 13 seed. Hofstra, tied for first in the Colonial, was given a No. 14 seed. And St. Francis (NY), tied for first in the NEC, was given a No. 16 seed and placed in a play-in game.

Click here to see the full bracket.

Seton Hall's Whitehead out vs. DePaul

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard has ruled out Isaiah Whitehead for his team's next game against DePaul.

Whitehead, the Preseason Big East Rookie of the Year, has missed the Pirates' past six games with a stress fracture in his foot and will miss at least one more -- even though it is still a week away, on Jan. 22.

"He had a great MRI a couple days ago, it showed that the bone is really healing," Willard said Thursday. "We probably won't take another [MRI] until after the DePaul game, and then see if it's still healing."

Whitehead will likely miss the game at Butler on Jan. 25 as well. "Maybe the Marquette game at Marquette [on Jan. 28], we're looking for," Willard said.

The Pirates are currently ranked No. 21 in the AP poll, but will probably drop out of the Top 25 after their 79-75 overtime loss at home to Butler on Tuesday.

The team has gone 4-2 thus far without Whitehead, who is the team's second-leading scorer, averaging 11.9 points per game.

D'Angelo Harrison passes Felipe Lopez

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
In case you missed it, D'Angelo Harrison reached a major milestone in St. John's 83-70 win over Providence on Wednesday.

Harrison (1,930 points) passed Felipe Lopez (1,927) to become the third-leading scorer in St. John's history -- rarefied air indeed.

He now trails only NBA Hall of Famer Chris Mullin (2,440) and the late Malik Sealy (2,402), who will probably remain No. 1 and No. 2. Harrison began the season at 1,601 career points, meaning he would have to score 802 points this season to pass Sealy, and 840 to pass Mullin. Harrison's career-high, in terms of points in a single season, is 576, set last year.

Also on Wednesday, Harrison was one of 25 players named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 list. The Wooden Award is one of college basketball's player of the year awards. Harrison was the only Big East player on the list.

Fellow senior Phil Greene IV also reached a milestone Wednesday, becoming the 49th player in St. John's history to score 1,000 career points.

Greene now stands at 1,110, which puts him past Justin Burrell (1,006) into 48th place. Next up is Bill Wennington (1,021).

Rapid Reax: St. John's 83, Providence 70

January, 14, 2015
Jan 14
Some quick thoughts on St. John's 83-70 win over Providence on Wednesday at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, R.I.:

What it means: St. John's won't start 0-5 in the Big East again this year. After opening 0-3, the Red Storm put one in the win column, and will try to build from there.

Despite being without starting guard Jamal Branch, who missed the game after requiring stitches for a cut on his hand earlier in the week, the Red Storm notched an impressive road victory. They improve to 12-4 overall and 1-3 in conference play.

Providence falls to 13-5 overall and 3-2 in the conference.

The turning point: This game was tied at each of the first three media timeouts. After the third, St. John's went on an 11-0 run, fueled by two 3-pointers from Phil Greene IV and one from Rysheed Jordan. The Red Storm led 42-30 at intermission, despite the fact that Chris Obekpa picked up his second foul less than five minutes in and sat the remainder of the first half.

Providence had a run of its own in the second half -- a 16-2 spurt that cut the deficit to three, 51-48, on two Tyler Harris free throws with 10:13 remaining. D'Angelo Harrison was whistled for his fourth foul on the play, but the referees went to the video monitor and gave the foul to Obekpa instead, his third (it could have gone either way, to be honest). That enabled Harrison to stay in the game, and his 3-pointer shortly thereafter put St. John's back up nine, 59-50 -- Providence never got closer than eight points after that.

Star watch: Harrison and Greene finished with 20 points apiece. Harrison shot 4-for-6 from beyond the arc, and Greene 5-for-8.

Both made history as well. Harrison moved into third place on St. John's all-time scoring list, passing Felipe Lopez -- he now trails only Chris Mullin and Malik Sealy. Greene became the 49th player in school history to score 1,000 career points.

LaDontae Henton scored 22 points for Providence.

Number crunch: Providence dominated St. John's on the boards, but shot itself in the foot at the foul line. The Friars made just 14 of 25 free throws (56 percent), and that includes missing the front end of two 1-and-1s.

What's next: St. John's plays at DePaul on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET -- the Blue Demons are off to a surprising 3-2 start in conference play.

Providence plays at Creighton Saturday night.

W2W4: St. John's at Providence

January, 14, 2015
Jan 14
Here are three things to watch for when St. John's (11-4, 0-3 Big East) plays Providence (13-4, 3-1 Big East) on Wednesday at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, R.I.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., and you can watch the game on Fox Sports 1.

Under pressure: Is mid-January too early to call this a "must-win" game? Perhaps, but the importance of this game should not be underestimated. St. John's desperately needs a win, or else this season could really go off the rails.

The Red Storm's 11-1 start in nonconference play, its best since 1985-86, is a distant memory. The team has lost its first three conference games, including two at home, and as of Monday would miss the NCAA tournament according to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi.

Three of St. John's next four Big East games are on the road. Providence is coming off back-to-back wins against Butler and Georgetown, and it is tied for first place with Villanova.

The Red Storm opened up 0-5 in the conference a year ago, and they were never quite able to dig themselves out of that hole. They are now just two losses away from the same predicament.

Jekyll & Sheed: St. John's is going to have a hard time beating most teams without a solid, if not strong, performance from Rysheed Jordan. He is the team's second leading scorer (13.1 ppg), and its only real threat when it comes dribble-drive penetration.

Jordan missed the team's loss to Butler two Saturdays ago while on a leave of absence from the team, and he played very poorly in the subsequent loss to Villanova, shooting 0-for-6 from the floor and finishing with just two points and three turnovers in 26 minutes.

He's been in double figures in nine of the 13 games he's played in this season. The Red Storm need that, at a minimum, from Jordan on Wednesday.

More on Friars: Providence lost three straight games in late November/early December, to Kentucky, Boston College and Brown -- yes, Brown! But the Friars have recovered nicely since, with only one more defeat, at Marquette on Jan. 3. They are currently ranked No. 13 in the RPI.

The only Big East player averaging more points per game than St. John's guard D'Angelo Harrison (20.6 ppg) is Providence forward LaDontae Henton (21.2 ppg) -- a 6-foot-6 senior who's shooting 47.1 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from 3-point range.

Sophomore point guard Kris Dunn averages 13.6 points, a Big East-best 7.4 assists, and 5.4 rebounds per game. In fact, he's tied for first in all of Division I in assists per game.

As a team, St. John's is tied for fifth in Div. I in blocked shots per game (7.0), but Providence isn't too shabby, either, tied for No. 22 (5.5). Also like the Red Storm, the Friars are not very reliant on the 3-point shot -- 267th (out of 355 schools) in 3-point field goals per game (5.2), and 246th in percentage (31.7). St. John's is ranked 284th (5.0) and 257th (31.3) in those categories, respectively.

Seton Hall hits bump in road versus Butler

January, 14, 2015
Jan 14
Seton HallJim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsSecond-chance points helped key Butler's upset over No. 21 Seton Hall in overtime.
NEWARK, N.J. -- The best Big East team in New York is ... Butler?

It appears so. Ten days after they took down No. 15 St. John's at Carnesecca Arena, the Bulldogs knocked off No. 21 Seton Hall 79-75 in overtime on Tuesday at the Prudential Center.

The Red Storm are no longer ranked in the Top 25, and after this loss, the Pirates won't be, either. They've now dropped two of their past three, including an 11-point defeat at Xavier last week. They needed a late Sterling Gibbs 3-pointer to edge Creighton 68-67 over the weekend.

"They did really good on the road the other day [against Creighton], they fought back and won a tough game," Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. "They fought today, we just didn’t play very well. Butler played better than us. Sometimes it's not rocket science."

The Pirates looked sluggish at the beginning of both halves and fell behind 9-2 out of the gate after going scoreless for more than five minutes.

[+] EnlargeSterling Gibbs
AP Photo/Bill KostrounSterling Gibbs scored a game-high 30-points but fouled out in OT.
They bounced back to take a 32-28 halftime lead but were outscored 13-1 to start the second half.

"I think we came out a little flat," Gibbs said. "We found ourselves trying to claw back, and once we did finally tie up the game and it went into overtime, they really took advantage of the fact that we had to come back and use up so much energy."

Gibbs was certainly not to blame. The junior scored a game-high 30 points and shot 6-for-9 from beyond the arc. But he fouled out with just over two minutes remaining in OT.

Freshman Khadeen Carrington had 20 points off the bench, and fellow freshman Angel Delgado had 12 points and 15 rebounds. But senior Brandon Mobley shot 1-for-15 from the field, sophomore Jaren Sina went scoreless in 39 minutes, and the Bulldogs had a 45-37 edge on the boards and a 19-10 advantage in second-chance points.

"I think they’re length -- they’re not an overly tall team, but their size really has done us in," said Willard, who also admitted his team might be relying too much on Gibbs to score and Delgado to rebound. Gibbs entered the game fourth in the conference in scoring, and Delgado tied for second in rebounding.

"They expect him to get every rebound," Willard said of Delgado. "When you play with a guy like him, sometimes you get a little complacent."

This is a learning process for Seton Hall, which features several underclassmen in its rotation and is still without Big East Preseason Rookie of the Year Isaiah Whitehead, who missed his sixth game in a row with a stress fracture in his foot.

The Pirates hadn't been ranked since 2012 and haven't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2006.

"We went from the hunter to the hunted," Gibbs said. "So now teams come in, and when we go to teams, each game, this is a good win for each team that we play. This is a good win for Butler. They’re able to put it on their résumé.

"I think once we’re able to realize that being ranked and being a top-notch team, what comes along with it, we’ll be able to capitalize on different situations."

The ranking will disappear come Monday, but it certainly could return. The Pirates are talented and deep, and at 13-4 overall and 3-2 in the Big East, the Big Dance is still well within reach.

Rapid Reax: Butler 79, Seton Hall 75 (OT)

January, 13, 2015
Jan 13
NEWARK, N.J. -- A few quick thoughts on No. 21 Seton Hall's 79-75 overtime loss to Butler on Tuesday at the Prudential Center:

What it means: Seton Hall will lose its Top 25 ranking next week.

After opening up Big East play with big wins over St. John's and Villanova, the Pirates have now dropped two of three. They also lost at Xavier on Wednesday before edging Creighton on the road over the weekend.

Seton Hall is now 13-4 overall and 3-2 in the conference. Butler, which also beat St. John's at Carnesecca Arena, is now 13-5 overall and 3-2 in the conference, as well.

The turning point: Butler jumped out to a 9-2 lead, as Seton Hall went more than five minutes without scoring after the opening bucket of the game. But the Pirates finished the first half in front 32-28, thanks to nine points from Sterling Gibbs.

The Bulldogs opened the second half on a 13-1 run and led by as many as nine -- 44-35. It took Seton Hall nearly eight minutes to score its first field goal of the half. But the Pirates recovered and finally evened the score at 63 with a Khadeen Carrington 3-point play with 1:10 remaining. Butler had a chance to win it in regulation, with the game tied at 67 and 5.3 seconds left, but Kellen Dunham missed a tough shot from the wing with defenders draped over him.

Butler scored the first four points of overtime before Gibbs drained his sixth 3-pointer of the game to bring Seton Hall back within one, at 71-70. But then Gibbs, who finished with a game-high 30 points, fouled out with 2:08 remaining. The Pirates still had their chances, but a Roosevelt Jones drive and layup with 17.2 seconds left essentially sealed the game.

Star watch: Besides Gibbs, Carrington scored 20 points off the bench, and Angel Delgado had 12 points and 15 rebounds. Brandon Mobley had a nightmare of a game -- the senior shot 1-for-15 from the field before exiting with a left leg injury during OT.

Big East Preseason Rookie of the Year Isaiah Whitehead missed his sixth game in a row with a stress fracture in his foot.

Jones and Dunham had 23 and 21 points, respectively, for Butler.

Number crunch: Seton Hall shot just 39.1 percent from the field, well below its season average of 44.6, and had just seven fast-break points.

What's next: Seton Hall has eight days off before hosting DePaul on Jan. 22. Butler plays at Georgetown on Saturday.