Johnnies romp Bulldogs 69-57 in must-win victory
(PHOTO COURTESY OF ST. JOHN'S RED STORM ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS)
"We're just tired of losing" was the line sophomore guard Julian Champagnie quoted following the St. John's Red Storm (7-6, 2-5) victory over the Butler Bulldogs (3-7, 2-5) by a score of 69-57 inside Carnesecca Arena on Tuesday night.
Head Coach Mike Anderson and the Red Storm were in the midst of coming off a pair of losses on the road, with one of them, being at Creighton, and allowing a season high 97 points to the seventh best team in the nation.
During the victory tonight, the Red Storm put together multiple runs, including a 14-6 run to secure its second conference victory of the season. During the run, the Johnnies were able to secure a pair of 13 point leads, while junior forward Josh Roberts added eight points. Roberts, as most know, hasn't been playing for the Johnnies in his normal role as a post player. But Anderson sees the vision differently this time around.
"I think it's his time." said Anderson following the game. "This is his opportunity." Last season, Roberts ranked fourth in the BIG EAST in blocks, averaging 1.5. While averaging 5.5 rebounds-per-game last season, which was good for 12th in the conference.
Additionally, Brooklyn native and sophomore guard Julian Champagnie added a team high 18 points, to add to his career day on the scoresheet, just 72 hours ago in Omaha. Champagnie also grabbed five rebounds and blocked one too.
At the end of the first half, the Red Storm were able to string together a 9-0 run, and conclude the first 20, with a Vince Cole 35-footer to put the Red Storm ahead 41-31, and head into the locker room with a double-digit lead.
Here are my five takeaways from this evening's must win contest:
1. Posh Alexander - Defender...and Shooter:
It's simple. "40 Minutes of Hell" was on display tonight, and you can thank Brooklyn native, and freshman guard Posh Alexander for a good chunk of that. Alexander contributed three steals, as well as four boards, and registered 10 points to the scoreboard. The freshman guard was able to help contribute to Butler turning the ball over 16 times during the game. Lavall Jordan's Bulldogs average 11 turnovers a game, while the Red Storm's opponents, this season, have averaged roughly the same as Butler committed tonight.
2. Have a Day, Josh Roberts:
Why are we commenting on an eight-point day from a proven junior forward? Because he hasn't really played during the COVID 2020-21 campaign. He hasn't played because he was out of Mike Anderson's rotation. There have been contests that include Creighton, Xavier, Georgetown, and Seton Hall, where Roberts didn't play or played for a mere two or three minutes. During tonight's game, Roberts was able to come away with eight points in three-of-four shooting, grabbed three rebounds, and added a pair of free-throws. As Mike Anderson said in the post-game press conference, he thinks it's his time. Do we believe its because freshman forward Isaih Moore is out? Time will tell.
3. Isaih Moore "Not Meeting Standards of the Program":
A win is a win, yes. But this could become a problem. Freshman forward Isaih Moore did not suit up for the Red Storm tonight due to "not meeting standards of the program." according to Zach Braziller of the New York Post. Anderson was asked about it following the game. “We talked about not living up to team standards…I’ll address it with him in the next couple days.”
Moore averages 9.7 points-per-game, and averages 5.8 rebounds-per-game. The latter ranks second on the Red Storm this season. Moore also is 6'10" and is the tallest student-athlete on the squad. Moore did register a career-high 26 points on the hardwood at Georgetown on December 13.
4. Must win games will continue through the weekend:
As previously notes in point #3, the Red Storm did get a victory. Yes, a win is a win, but in order to compete in a tough BIG EAST conference that now features the UConn Huskies. The Johnnies travel to Connecticut to face the Huskies on Monday, January 18 inside Gampel Pavillion, but first, St. John's welcomes Marquette to Carnesecca Arena this coming Saturday. Right now, the Johnnies sit tied for eighth place within the league, and own the tiebreaker over tonight's opponent, Butler.
5. Full team effort, and it showed:
We can't continue to preach this enough. Look at the numbers from redshirt senior Rasheem Dunn. Seven points, five assists, four rebounds, four steals. Junior forward Marcellus Earlington grabbed three-boards and added seven points down low in the post to contribute to the team's seventh victory of the season. The Johnnies also grabbed 15 points off 17 turnovers. The biggest notable statistic, was the fact that St. John's did not allow over 50% from behind-the-arc this evening. They allowed just six triples in 24 total attempts by the Bulldogs. St. John's did in fact, obtain 10 fast-break points in addition.
St. John's welcomes the Marquette Golden Eagles to Carnesecca Arena on Saturday, January 16 for a 2 p.m. opening tip. The game can be viewed on FS1.