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Reax: UNC-Asheville 72, St. John's 65

What it means: What a disappointing way to finish nonconference play.

In its final game of 2012, St. John's was stunned by UNC-Asheville, 72-65, on Friday at Carnesecca Arena. The Red Storm blew a huge lead (see below) against a team that had never beaten a Big East squad before, and will now have to sit on this loss through the holidays.

St. John's ended up going 8-4 in November and December against a relatively weak schedule. Not terrible -- but this loss really stings. The Bulldogs improved to 5-7 on the year.

The turning point: St. John's opened this game fast, taking a double-figure lead less than midway through the first half. The Red Storm led by as many as 17, 38-21, but allowed UNC-Asheville to close to 40-30 at halftime.

The second half began in similar fashion, with St. John's scoring the first five points to push its lead back to 15. Then, UNC-Asheville came roaring back. Trailing 54-42, the Bulldogs went on a 23-4 run, taking a 65-58 lead with 4:32 left. St. John's scored seven straight points from there, tying the game at 65. But then UNC-Asheville's Keith Hornsby hit the biggest shot of the game -- a 3-pointer with 1:30 left and the shot clock winding down. St. John's didn't score again.

Star watch: D'Angelo Harrison entered the game scoring 20.6 points per game, which ranked him 13th in the country. He had 24 points on Friday. Jakarr Sampson added 17. Texas A&M transfer Jamal Branch had two points, two assists and four turnovers in 14 minutes in his St. John's debut.

Jeremy Atkinson, UNC-Asheville's leading scorer, went off for a career-high 31 points -- 23 of them coming in the second half.

Number crunch: St. John's was outrebounded 40-30, including 13-7 on the offensive glass. The Red Storm was outscored 44-28 in the paint, and 17-4 on second-chance points. All this against a team from the Big South.

What's next: St. John's next plays at Villanova on Wed., Jan. 2.