St. John’s shot 1 of 9 from behind the three point line in a 53-52 upset of No. 14 Cincinnati. That’s a terrible number.
But it was the nature of that one make that illustrated the never-say-die attitude of the invading Johnnies. Sophomore D’Angelo Harrison, playing with four fouls, was double-teamed 30 feet away from the basket with time running out on the shot clock. He leaned between the two Cincinnati defenders who had him ostensibly hemmed in, heaved a line-drive in the general direction of the basket, and nailed his team’s only deep shot of the day.
After that prayer not only drew iron, but swished, the rest almost seemed academic. Titus Rubles and Cashmere Wright made the next two buckets before Harrison nailed a more garden-variety two-pointer to put the Red Storm up 53-52 with :30 remaining. A missed Sir’Dominic Pointer free throw gave Wright one more heave at the basket, but St. John’s held on to move to 1-1 in the Big East. Cincy’s loss dropped them to the same mark.
Jakarr Sampson actually led the Red Storm, with 16 points and 8 boards, but Harrison’s 15 and 7 seemed to be just a little more clutch. Cashmere Wright played heroically for the Bearcats, notching 23 points to lead all scorers, along with 10 rebounds, a rarity from a point guard.
St. John’s was picked tenth in the preseason Big East poll, but the team looks to have at least a puncher’s chance every night. Former Texas and Houston head coach Tom Penders put his finger on the zeitgeist for this year’s Johnnies:
St. John’s will host Rutgers — the team that just upset No. 24 Pitt — on January 9, hoping to move their overall record to 10-5.
Tonight’s bubble action. This post will be updated as the games are completed.
Cincinnati at UCF, 7:00 p.m.
Pitt at No. 12 Miami, 7:00 p.m.
No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.
Ole Miss at Florida, 9:00 p.m.
Georgia at No. 22 Kentucky, 9:00 p.m.
Arkansas at Mississippi State, 9:00 p.m.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.
The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.
We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
- Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
- Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
- Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
- No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
- No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.