scored 19 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer late. (Joshua Sarner/Icon SMI)
The last time Creighton faced St. John’s, Doug McDermott hit a 25-foot jumper with 2.5 seconds left to cap a sterling 39-point performance and give the Bluejays a 63-60 win. It was the Red Storm’s only loss in a six-game stretch that included wins over Marquette and Providence.
Earlier this week, Red Storm junior Sir’Dominic Pointer, recalling McDermott’s tour de force in Omaha, Neb., told reporters, “He showed what he can do. He beat us himself, pretty much."
To avenge the loss Sunday night at Madison Square Garden, Pointer and his teammates would need to do a better job containing McDermott.
The Red Storm didn’t exactly shut McDermott down, but it did enough to hold off the Bluejays for a 70-65 win. St. John’s junior D’Angelo Harrison shot 4-for-10 for 19 points and scored his team’s final eight. Center Chris Obekpa added 11 points and five rebounds.
McDermott shot 10-for-18 for 25 points, near his season average (25.3), but the two-time All-American didn’t score after converting a layup for a two-point Bluejays lead with 8:41 remaining. So while McDermott got his points, St. John’s defended him well when it needed to.
This is the sort of win the Red Storm needed to prove that its recent hot streak was not merely a product of easy competition. Wins over Seton Hall, Butler and Providence showed St. John’s had awoken from its early Big East slumber – it lost five straight to open conference play – but it had yet to notch a noteworthy win.
The Bluejays (4) are the first team St. John’s has beaten this season ranked in the top 50 of Ken Pomeroy’s team efficiency ratings. They also represent St. John’s second top 50 RPI win. That will help the Red Storm’s resumé, but St. John’s has some work to do before it is realistically considered a candidate for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Creighton has lost just twice since December 1. Despite Sunday’s loss, it sits just a half game back of No. 6 Villanova in the conference standings. And the Bluejays host the Wildcats next Sunday. You may remember what happened the last time these two teams met.
(1) Syracuse 57, Clemson 44
Senior forward C.J. Fair scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Orange past the Tigers. Grant added 12 points and eight rebounds. Clemson guard K.J. McDaniels put up 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Syracuse (23-0, 10-0 ACC) matched the program record for consecutive wins set in the 1916-17 and 1917-18 seasons. Syracuse senior center Baye-Moussa Keita sprained his right knee late in the first half and did not return. “Hopefully, Baye will be OK.” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said afterward. “We don't have any ideas, but we hope that it wasn't too bad and we can get him back. But we'll have to wait and see." The Orange, who already lost center DaJuan Coleman for the season to a knee injury, could have only one center, junior Rakeem Christmas, available for Wednesday’s game at Pittsburgh. Sophomore forward Jerami Grant filled in at the position Sunday when Christmas got in foul trouble.
(2) Arizona 76, Oregon State 54
That’s two straight wins for the Wildcats since they lost their first game of the season on February 1 at Cal. Freshmen forwards Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson combined for 33 points and 11 rebounds and senior point guard T.J. McConnell had 11 points and six assists. The Wildcats barely survived Oregon earlier this week, but they didn’t have any problems handling the Beavers. The next three games will be interesting: at Arizona State, at Utah and at Colorado. We are about to learn how good Arizona really is without Brandon Ashley.
(22) UConn 75, UCF 55
Three days after losing by five at No. 7 Cincinnati, the Huskies
throttled bottom-feeding UCF to move to 6-4 in the AAC and 18-5 overall. Senior guard Shabazz Napier
scored 17 points, grabbed seven rebounds, recorded three steals and handed off six assists. George Washington transfer forward Lasan Kromah
matched Bazz’s scoring total and snatched seven boards to go with four swipes. The Huskies host South Florida and No. 24 Memphis this week.