A home away from home, the Barclays Center is not for the Red Storm.
St. John’s struggled mightily in its two contests in Brooklyn, first losing 89-82 in overtime on Nov. 29 to an improving, but still inferior Penn State team that finished an abysmal 10-21 last season.
The Red Storm nearly lost its second straight game on Nov. 30, needing a massive comeback to notch a 69-58 victory over a mediocre Georgia Tech team to push their record to 5-2.
After its inconsistent performance in a sloppy 65-47 win over Longwood on Nov. 26, in which suspended freshman Rysheed Jordan returned to score eight points, the Red Storm carried its struggles to Brooklyn against Penn State. The Nittany Lions finished in last place in the Big Ten conference last season, but still took it to the Johnnies.
St. John’s started slow, allowing a staggering 42 points in the first half, and the Red Storm even found themselves down by 15 points early in the second half. With a loss all but clinched, the Johnnies stormed back, outscoring Penn State 17 to 5 to tie the game with three minutes remaining.
While the Red Storm’s winning ways appeared to have been left behind in Queens, junior guard D’Angelo Harrison’s hot hands made the trip to the Barclays Center.
The preseason All-Big East selection continued to shoot well, scoring a team-high 20 points, including seven in the final 90 seconds of the game to push the contest into overtime, where St. John’s eventually fell behind for good.
Sophomore forward Max Hooper made his presence known for the first time this season in the defeat, as the bench player sizzled the net with 15 points on the strength of five three-pointers. Hooper is known for his elite three-point shooting and should be a key player for the Johnnies going forward.
While there were glaring holes in the Red Storm’s play, fourth-year coach Steve Lavin saw positives in his squad moving forward.
“It was an exhilarating game and disappointing to lose in overtime, but there were a number of positive takeaways,” Lavin said after the game. “Some positives were the three-point shooting, Hooper stepping up and our team rallying.”
A new day didn’t bring much change in the Red Storm’s ways, as St. John’s once again struggled against Georgia Tech in Brooklyn, but luckily for the Johnnies, one aspect of the tilt that did change from the previous night was the final score.
The Johnnies once again found themselves down by 15 points, this time in the first half, but they rallied to cut the deficit to seven at halftime. After the break, the Johnnies found their groove offensively for the first time since thrashing Wagner last month, as they scored 45 second half points.
Harrison once again led the team in points with 21, and with an outstanding average of 19.7 points-per-game, the junior sits second in the Big East in scoring behind Doug McDermott of Creighton.
Lavin has seen Harrison develop into a weapon this season, but the coach believes he has an arsenal at his disposal outside of just the junior.
“It’s the deepest team I’ve ever coached,” he said after the win. “We’re going to be a team that utilizes its depth.”
St. John’s will next face rival Fordham in its first of nine home games at Madison Square Garden on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.