Photo: AP Images
The final score, 93-78, makes the game seem closer than it actually was.The Red Storm pulled away from No. 3 Duke early, jumping out to a 24-14 lead 12 minutes into the first half. By halftime they led 46-25, and were still up 22 with six minutes left.
St. John’s was impressive throughout and ably withstood Duke pushes at the beginning of the second half, and in the closing minutes. It made great rotations on defence, scrambling crosscourt to contest every Duke look, and holding the Blue Devils to 1-of-21 shooting from long range through the game’s first 37 minutes. (Seth Curry and Nolan Smith got hot late, and Duke finished 5-for-26).
Offensively, St. John’s relied on crisp passing and ball movement to get open looks all game. Most importantly they knocked down those looks. The Red Storm shot 58.5% from the field.
We’re just 30 days away from March, so every college basketball game is framed by NCAA tournament seeding.
For Duke, this game puts its No. 1 seed in question for the first time all year. Though they’re still 19-2, they’re most impressive wins are at home over then-No. 4 Kansas State and then-No. 6 Michigan State. But both teams have since proved unworthy of their high-billing and have spiraled out of the top-25.
Meanwhile, it’s the third win over a ranked opponent in January for St. John’s (12-8), who is suddenly making a case for its first tournament appearance since 2002.
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