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


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.