St. John’s went into Philly tonight wearing a dreadful 0-11 Big East record, yet riding high off a bizarre 81-77 takedown of Duke just four days ago. Still, going up against number-one Villanova, their conference drought seemed all but guaranteed to continue.
Somehow, St. John’s did it again, improving to 1-11 by beating their conference’s (and the country’s) best team, 79-75, with just a six-man rotation. Sophomore point guard Shamorie Ponds—by far the Red Storm’s best player all year—followed up an amazing 33-point performance against Duke with 26 points and five assists.
Meanwhile, National Player of the Year candidate Jalen Brunson had an off night for the Wildcats, at least in the first 38 minutes of the game. Brunson, overall, only hit two of his 11 threes, though a late stretch where he scored 12 straight for his team was almost enough for the comeback victory. St. John’s made just enough free throws, however, and a panicky, potential go-ahead three by Nova freshman Omari Spellman didn’t go down with 12 seconds left. A defensive rebound for the Red Storm after that just about did it.
The bad news for St. John’s: They have much more winnable-looking games next up on the schedule, versus Marquette and DePaul.