Men’s Basketball Suffers Second Straight Loss in 2K Sports Classic

For the second straight game, the St. John’s men’s basketball team couldn’t hold a second-half lead, falling to Texas A&M, 58-57, on Nov. 18 at Madison Square Garden in the consolation game of the 2K Sports Classic.

Sophomore guard Nurideen Lindsey had a chance to win it for the Red Storm (3-2), when he was fouled with 2.3 seconds left and his team down by one, but he missed both free throws, his seventh and eighth misses of the game.

Lindsey’s miss came after Texas A&M guard Elston Turner put the Aggies in front when he hit a pull-up jumper with six seconds left to put his team in the lead.

The loss wrapped up a 22 hour stretch that saw St. John’s lose its first two games of the season largely because of correctable errors, according to head coach Steve Lavin.

“For us, we just have to get better, go back to work,” said Lavin. “Last night I thought turnovers were really costly and tonight it was free throws. But both games, down the stretch, we weren’t able to put away an opponent because of something we can control.”

St. John’s fell behind early for the fifth straight game this season. Lavin said he has switched up the team’s pregame routine and put Phil Greene in the starting lineup for the first time this season in an effort to come out stronger. But the Johnnies still fell behind 23-12 just over 12 minutes into the first half.

“Early, I was disappointed with our sense of urgency,” Lavin said. “It seemed like we came out and we were a little bit flat, we were a step slow. I thought we were beaten to the punch on what we call the 50-50 balls on the glass, down the floor in transition.”

They spent most of the rest of the game playing catch-up, not taking their first lead until two Lindsey free throws put them up 55-54 with 4:23 left to play. The teams traded points until the final possession, when Turner held serve for the Aggies and Lindsey didn’t for the Johnnies.

As a team, the Johnnies got to the line 38 times, but shot only 58 percent from the charity stripe. Lindsey, who leads the team in scoring, shot 8-of-16 from the free throw line. He is shooting 58 percent from the line this year, but his teammates still believe in him.

“We have a lot of confidence in Nuri because he’s been carrying us the whole time,” said freshman guard Phil Greene. “We know if he gets that opportunity again, it’ll come naturally to him.”

On the other end, Texas A&M only shot three free throws all night, something that didn’t sit well with Aggies head coach Billy Kennedy.

“New York’s a great city. I’ll leave it at that,” he said, hinting at a home-court advantage for St. John’s. “But I think justice was served at the end. I’ve never been in a situation where it’s been that big of a disrepancy.”

The Red Storm look to get back in the win column on Nov. 22 when they take on St. Francis at Carnesecca Arena.

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