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  • Writer's pictureJoey Jarzynka

Jazz's Thoughts: St. John's falters in second half at Xavier

Just when you thought the St. John's Red Storm (6-5, 1-4) would be able to get past the bad omens of the Xavier Musketeers (9-2, 2-2), closing the game and its second half woes, would creep up on Mike Anderson and his team. The Red Storm fell by a score of 69-61 to the Musketeers inside the Cintas Center on Wednesday evening.

The Johnnies were led this evening by senior guard Rasheem Dunn, who took full advantage of the 17 day break. The St. Francis Brooklyn and Cleveland State transfer led the Red Storm with 17 points, grabbed a pair of rebounds, and converted eight-of-15 from the field. "The break really helped me get in tune with myself." said Dunn, who suffered a concussion against Saint Peters, on November 25. Dunn then would go on to miss five consecutive contests. "Rasheem played like a veteran tonight." commented Anderson following the loss.

The first media timeout of the contest saw St. John's tied at 13 a piece with Xavier. At one point, the Johnnies would extend its lead to as much as six by a score of 27-21, before the Musketeers clawed their way back and earned its lead back.

Here are my five takeaways from the game:

1. Couldn't Take Advantage of Xavier's Poor Offensive Performance

The end of the first stanza featured a 27-27 tie between both St. John's and Xavier. Keep in mind, the most losses consecutive in program history, belong to the Musketeers, as the Red Storm have fallen 11 straight times to the team from Cincinnati. The last victory came in February of 2015, in the DeAngelo Harrison/Steve Lavin era. Feels like a lifetime ago.

Anyway, locking down forward Zach Freemantle, who averages 16.7 PPG (7th in BIG EAST), to just five points. All of which, came from the charity stripe. Freemantle also was shooting 0-for-5 from the field after 20. Anderson preaches defense, and his guys did a phenomenal job locking him down. The issue was down low in the paint come the second half, where guard Jason Carter grabbed a total of 16 rebounds, and posted a double-double notching 11 points as well.

Xavier did not convert a single three-pointer in 12 attempts. Guard Adam Kunkel attempted a team high three, but was unsuccessful on his attempts. The Johnnies rank dead last in the league allowing an average of 39.6% from the perimeter. The Musketeers rank third in the league averaging 8.9 treys per game.

2. Fatigue Plays a Factor?

The Johnnies were able to keep up with the Musketeers throughout the first stanza, before a 17-1 occurred for Xavier in the second half, where St. John's didn't score a single basket for nearly six minutes. Could the 17 day lay-off had to do with it? The Red Storm were supposed to open their 2021 calendar year with a visit from DePaul, but a false-positive COVID-19 test within the St. John's program, prompted a postponement until testing irregularities were squared away.

St. John's went through a period of not one field goal for nearly four and a half minutes in the second half, as well as sloppy play that forced four turnovers in six minutes.

In the first half, the Johnnies weren't able to obtain a basket at times, specifically from freshman guard Posh Alexander, a triple attempt from Rasheem Dunn, as well as Vince Cole logging a pair of fouls early on in the low post.

3. Josh Roberts - Missing in Action

Junior forward Josh Roberts was not seen on the hardwood, now twice this season. Head Coach Mike Anderson was asked once again, why we're not seeing the Mullin recruit, especially when the opposition is beating the Red Storm down low. Anderson responded to NY Post's Zach Braziller by saying he believed he had the guys there that could've done the job.

Doing the job wasn't the case by a country mile. Xavier tallied 42 points in the paint, and the total rebounds were 57, compared to 40 for the visiting team. St. John's grabbed eight offensive boards, and tallied seven second chance points. Not a winning recipe. Could Roberts have been helpful while Isaih Moore was in foul trouble? The leading offensive rebounder was the aforementioned Moore with four, and behind him.....Julian Champagnie, who has three. The Johnnies did record eight blocks in the first half, which set a season high in the first stanza.

4. Rasheem Dunn Rejuvenated

Redshirt senior guard Rasheem Dunn missed five games with a concussion in the beginning of the season. There was one point, we heard reports the Dunn had bounced his face so hard off the Carnesecca Arena floor, that he had asked multiple bizzare questions. Completely normal when you have a concussion, of that severity as well.

“It was hard suffering that concussion during the first game and me being out the five games and then coming back and not really playing like myself." said Dunn. "It’s a new year like coach always says on the team, and he wanted me to get back to my usual self. I just came out trying to get my team going early instead of playing catch-up as you can see it kind of worked, we were in the game, and then a couple of missteps happened but that’s basketball and we can always fix that.”

Dunn's aggression with the ball and his drives, were able to land him 17 points, which was a season high, and convert eight-of-15 from the field. He was able to grab a pair of rebounds, steal one, and assist on one basket.

5. David Caraher Takes Leave of Absence

Earlier this evening, St. John's athletic communications released a statement about redshirt senior guard David Caraher will be staying in his North Carolina home, and has not been with the team since the break.

COURTESY OF SJU ATHLETICS - “David has been a great teammate and member of our basketball program, and we have a lot of respect for him as a person,” said St. John’s Head Coach Mike Anderson. “We fully support his decision.”

Caraher has only averaged 4.6 minutes per game, and has been out of Anderson's rotation for much of his tenure in Queens.

St. John's next road schedule does not get any easier, as the Red Storm visit 7/7 Creighton Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon, January 9, for a noon matinee in Omaha. The game can be seen on FS1. This will be the final meeting of the regular season between the two, as the Blue Jays took down the Red Storm in Queens, easily by a score of 94-76, thanks in large part to Ryan Kalkbrenner, Damien Jefferson, and of course, Marcus Zegarowski.

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