Sunday, January 30, 2011
Rapid Reaction: St. John's 93, Duke 78
By Kieran Darcy
NEW YORK -- A quick take on St. John's win over Duke at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon.
WHAT IT MEANS: St. John's (12-8, 4-5 in Big East) records its biggest win of the season, stunning a national TV audience by beating the No. 3 team in the country. This is the kind of signature win that will pay huge dividends when the NCAA Tournament selection committee convenes in March. St. John's had lost seven straight to Duke. St. John's has now beaten three ranked teams in a season for the first time since 2001-02.
Duke (19-2, 6-1 in ACC) suffers its second loss of the season. Both defeats came against unranked teams -- Florida State knocked the Blue Devils off 66-61 on Jan. 12 in Tallahassee.
THE PERFECT GAME? Not quite, but St. John's could not have played much better than they did on Sunday afternoon -- particularly in the first half, when they jumped out to a 46-25 halftime lead. The Red Storm executed impeccably on offense, making some tough shots early and exploiting Duke's full-court pressure late for easy buckets.
On defense, St. John's full-court pressure and half-court trap really bothered Duke, which committed 11 first-half turnovers. The Blue Devils could never get into any kind of rhythm offensively.
In the second half, St. John's withstood a couple jabs by Duke, but the Blue Devils never really got back into it. The closest Mike Krzyzewski's club got was within 11.
TEAM EFFORT: There were many heroes for St. John's on Sunday. Dwight Hardy played his best game of the season, finishing with 26 points on 9-for-13 shooting. Justin Brownlee had 20 points and nine rebounds, Paris Horne had 15 points and six assists. And little-used Sean Evans had a big 10 points, going 5-for-5 from the field.
ICE COLD: Duke came in No. 11 in the country in 3-pointers per game (9.1), and No. 16 in the country in 3-point field goal percentage (40.1). St. John's was ranked No. 302 (out of 336 schools) in 3-point field goal defense. Recipe for disaster, right?
Nope. Instead, Duke shot 5-for-26 from beyond the 3-point arc -- at one point they were 1-for-21, but they drained four of 'em late. Leading scorer Nolan Smith had a game-high 32 points, but was 2-for-6 from downtown. Kyle Singler (20 points) was 1-for-7. And Seth Curry, who had 20 points and shot 5-for-7 from long range in Duke's last game versus Boston College, was 1-for-5 and only scored three points in the game.
St. John's played very well defensively, but Duke also missed on a bunch of open looks.
WHAT'S NEXT: St. John's hosts Rutgers at Carnesecca Arena on Wednesday. Duke plays at Maryland on Wednesday.