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Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Rapid Reaction: St. John's 81, West Virginia 71

By Kieran Darcy

WHAT IT MEANS: St. John's ups its record to 8-3 on the season, and more importantly, wins its first Big East conference game of the season. What's better, the Red Storm win it in a very difficult place to play, Morgantown. St. John's had lost 10 straight to West Virginia, dating back to 2002.

West Virginia drops to 8-3 on the season, and 0-1 in Big East play.

SAME BEGINNING, (VERY) DIFFERENT ENDING: Last season, St. John's jumped out to a 33-22 lead against West Virginia at halftime, only to get crushed in the second half and lose 79-60. Wednesday night, St. John's led 34-28 at the break, and only got better afterwards -- away from home, no less.

OUTCLASSED: St. John's was better than West Virginia in virtually every way Wednesday night. The Red Storm executed better on offense, were more active on defense, and simply appeared to want it more.

The shooting statistics were probably the most impressive. After shooting 59.6 percent from the field in its last game (an 85-69 win over previously unbeaten Northwestern), St. John's shot 61 percent from the field against West Virginia. (West Virginia, on the other hand, shot 37.9 percent from the field.)

Also, the foul line has plagued St. John's in recent seasons, and in several games this season. But the Red Storm came up big at the charity stripe Wednesday night, making 30 of their 39 free throws. Dwight Hardy was 12-for-12, and D.J. Kennedy was 11-for-12.

STAR WATCH: Four Red Storm players were in double figures in this game, led by Hardy with 20 points -- Hardy has now scored at least 20 in four of his past five games. Justin Brownlee had 17 points, and Justin Burrell added 13. Also, Dwayne Polee had another strong game off the bench.

But Kennedy was the team's MVP against West Virginia, finishing with 17 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Kennedy, who hails from nearby Pittsburgh, took just three shots from the field -- he made them all. He made his living at the free throw line, and made his presence felt all over the floor.

WHAT'S NEXT: St. John's stays on the road, playing at Providence on Saturday, New Year's Day. West Virginia plays at Marquette on the same day.