The St. John’s Red Storm crushed the Creighton Blue Jays 84-66 on Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. St. John’s improves to 15-8 overall and 4-6 in Big East play and broke a streak in which the Red Storm had lost seven of ten games.
St. John’s came out firing early, jumping out to a 23-9 lead on a jumper from Sir’Dominic Pointer at the 12:27 mark of the first half. They kept it going and led 52-30 at halftime. Rysheed Jordan had 19 points on 7-9 form the field, including a superb 5-for-6 from behind the arc, along with 3 rebounds and 3 assists. D’Angelo Harrison had 10 points on 4-6 shooting (1-3 on threes), 4 assists, and 4 rebounds in the first half.
It was more of the same in the second half, as St. John’s opened up a 23-point lead, 62-39, on a Phil Greene IV three with 13:18 left. The closest Crieghton got was 15, at 70-55, on a Devin Brooks layup with 5:39 to go, but shortly after, St. John’s was back up 20, at 81-61, on a Jordan free throw.
Jordan finished with 25 points (9-12 FG, 6-8 on threes) to lead St. John’s, and he had 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Harrison had 21 points on 5-for-8 from the field, 2-4 on threes, and a perfect 9-for-9 on free throws, with 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Phil Greene IV had 13 points (6-10 FG, 1-2 on threes) with 3 assists and 2 rebounds. Sir’Dominic Pointer had 10 points (5-9 FG, 0-1 on threes), with an incredible 8 blocks (all St. John’s had for the game), 7 rebounds, and an assist.
St. John’s Head Coach Steve Lavin:
On the team’s overall performance:
“We shared the basketball today. We found the open man and knocked down shots, hence the 18 assists against eight turnovers. It was a spirited effort and a win that we needed to have.”
On the fast start to the game:
“Our kids really played well today. I know when you win the assumption is there was a sense of urgency and when you lose there isn’t, but the reality is we are trying to win every game. Today we made shots and our small lineup created matchup problems for Creighton. Rysheed (Jordan) shot the ball lights out and our guard play was outstanding. I thought our team played well across the board. In every facet of play we excelled this afternoon.”
On Rysheed Jordan’s performance:
“Rysheed is returning to the form – similar to this time last year. He is gradually regaining his stride and rhythm. Overall, his comfort level and maturity is evident. He has navigated an emotional minefield as best he can given the challenges he has faced.”
On Chris Obekpa coming off the bench:
“It’s just a different look. We need Chris because he anchors our defense. He gives us a presence in the lane that is important to our objectives and the success that we hope to have as a team. When we go with that smaller group it can create matchup problems for opponents. If we are going to win in the Big East against the current top-tier teams, the play in the paint is critical.”
Senior Guard/Forward Sir’Dominic Pointer
On playing without junior forward Chris Obekpa for the majority of the game:
“Chris is a unique talent and it is hard to replace him. We played a good game today and hopefully we get him back soon.”
On his block at the end of the first half to give St. John’s momentum:
“I just wanted to make a play. My teammates do a good job of applying themselves on the defensive end. It was an exciting play and gave the team momentum coming back out to start the second half.”
Senior Guard D’Angelo Harrison
On preparing for today’s game:
“We had a great talk before the game. Coach got us ready. We knew what Creighton was going to do. We were ready to play and we had to win this game. Now we flush it and get ready for the next one.”
On why St. John’s played well today:
“We just need to come out with a lot of energy. Coach always says be the first one down the floor, first one to take a charge, first one to do everything. We did that today and it showed. We got off to a good start early and finished the first half great. We knew they were going to make a run but we had a big enough lead to sustain a run and finish out the game.”
On if St. John’s can make a run with five of seven games at home:
“We just worry about one game at a time. We just want to keep winning games. Now we just have to worry about the next one against DePaul.”
OBEPKA OUT OF STARTING LINEUP:
Just a few hours before Saturday’s tipoff, St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin announced Chris Obekpa has been removed from the starting lineup indefinitely as a result of his flagrant 2 foul committed against Butler’s Tyler Wideman on Tuesday. Obekpa, a 6-foot-10 junior, has started all 22 games for the Red Storm this season, averaging 6.8 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds. He ranks third in the nation with 3.4 blocks per game.
Obepka said, “I spoke with Tyler last night and sincerely apologized for the poor sportsmanship that I demonstrated in our game earlier this week. In the heat of competition I lost my composure and my actions are regrettable. I let my team down, and will learn from this incident to better represent St John’s moving forward.”
Lavin said, “We are disappointed with Chris’ poor judgment and thankful it did not cause a serious injury to Tyler. Our student athletes are held to the highest standards of sportsmanship and personal conduct. Chris realizes he let our team down and will learn from this unfortunate incident. Chris can work toward earning his starting spot back down the line, but for now he has lost the privilege.”