<
>

Rapid Reaction: St. John's 72, Rutgers, 60

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- A quick take on St. John's 72-60 win over Rutgers on Wednesday at the Rutgers Athletic Center:

What it means: As the temperature drops, this young St. John's team is heating up, and climbing the Big East ladder.

The Red Storm won their third game in a row Wednesday, improving to 12-7 overall and 4-3 in Big East play. St. John's is now in a tie for fourth-place in the conference with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, a half-game behind third-place Louisville.

Rutgers falls to 12-6 overall, and 3-4 in the Big East. The Scarlet Knights have lost two in a row.

The turning point: Rutgers led for the first 18:56 of the first half -- St. John's first and only lead was the halftime score, 29-28. The Red Storm closed the half on an 8-0 run.

St. John's opened the second half with nine more unanswered points, making it 38-28. It took Rutgers almost five and a half minutes to score. Once the Scarlet Knights did, they rattled off seven straight to close within three. But that's as close as it got. The Red Storm quickly re-expanded the lead and were ahead by as many as 15. They made enough free throws down the stretch to close out the game.

Star watch: Freshman forward Jakarr Sampson had his fourth 20-point game of the season for St. John's, finishing with a game-high 21. D'Angelo Harrison added 20 points, 15 of them coming in the second half. But the biggest star of the game was swingman Sir'Dominic Pointer, who did it all -- 13 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and six steals.

For Rutgers, guard Myles Mack had a team-high 17 points. Leading scorer Eli Carter had a nightmarish game, shooting 1-for-14 from the field, and finishing with just five points.

Number crunch: Rutgers entered the game shooting 46.5 percent as a team, ranking them 43rd in the country. But the Scarlet Knights shot 36.5 percent against St. John's (23-for-63). Rutgers also committed 17 turnovers.

What's next: St. John's hosts Seton Hall on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, at noon. Rutgers plays at UConn on Sunday at 2 p.m, in Hartford.