Rapid Reaction: Xavier 65, St. John's 53

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25
NEW YORK -- Some quick thoughts on St. John's' 65-53 loss to Xavier on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden:

What it means: Xavier moved one step closer to the NCAA tournament, and St. John's moved one step closer to the NIT.

In a tilt between two teams jockeying for position in the Big East and for the Big Dance, the Musketeers earned a season sweep of the Red Storm, meaning they'd almost certainly get the nod come Selection Sunday if both are on the bubble.

St. John's drops to 18-11 overall and 8-8 in the Big East. Xavier improves to 19-9 overall and 9-6 in the conference.

The turning point: It was a tight first half -- neither team led by more than five. Things grew chippy near the end -- on the final possession, St. John's guard Rysheed Jordan and Xavier guard Semaj Christon got tangled up, and both were whistled for a technical foul after the final buzzer. Xavier led by just one, 31-30, despite shooting 56 percent from the field (14-for-25).

With Xavier still leading by just one, 39-38, the Musketeers took control with a 10-1 run -- capped off by a Jalen Reynolds 3-point play -- to make it 49-39 with 7:19 remaining. St. John's closed to within four points on three separate occasions after that but could get no closer. The Musketeers finished the victory off at the foul line.

Star watch: Jakarr Sampson led St. John's with 14 points. Jordan and Orlando Sanchez each scored 11 points off the bench. D'Angelo Harrison tied a season low with just four points, shooting 1-for-11 from the field.

Reynolds, a freshman, had a monster game off the bench for Xavier -- 17 points and 16 rebounds, both career highs.

Number crunch: St. John's shot just 36.7 percent from the field (22-for-60), 12.5 percent from beyond the arc (2-for-16) and 53.8 percent from the foul line (7-for-13). And the Red Storm had zero fast break points in 40 minutes, which is hard to believe.

What's next: St. John's hosts DePaul on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. Xavier hosts No. 9 Creighton on Saturday.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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