After a miracle opening win against Kentucky, St. John’s knew it was going to be hard-pressed to repeat the feat. Facing a double-digit deficit for most of the game, the Red Storm almost pulled it off again. In the end the seventh ranked Kansas proved too much for the Red Storm, winning 82-74 to win the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer IKON Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Facing an intense Jayhawk zone defense, SJU was unable to establish a presence in the paint. It settled for mostly outside shots and shot only 38 percent from the field.
Omar Cook had a frustrating night with 17 points on 6 of 20 shooting.
The Red Storm came out strong opening up an early 11-4 lead. Slowly Kansas began to make its way back and went on a 29-13 run.
The Jayhawks athleticism was highly visible as it converted five dunks in the first half. The exclamatory slam came when guard Kenny Gregory took an alley-oop pass and jammed it in for a 29-24 lead. The rest of the half would see Kansas up its lead to 10 and go into the locker room with a 45-37 halftime advantage.
The opening half was all about Kansas making shots and St. John’s missing them. The Jayhawks shot 63 percent while St. John’s threw up a paltry 38 percent. Drew Gooden and Kenny Gregory sliced up the St. John’s defense, combining for 29 points on 11 of 16 shooting.
In the second half it appeared that the Jayhawks would blow St. John’s out of the Garden. Still shooting lights out, Kansas took a 57-45 lead when point guard Jeff Boschee beat Omar Cook for a layup with over 12 minutes remaining.
Similar to the Kentucky game, the Red Storm would make one final run. It would go on a 15-8 run to cut the deficit at two, 73-71.
“I see a group of guys that competes,” Jarvis said. “These guys play with so much heart and so much passion.”
After a Gooden made two foul shots to make the score 75 -71 Kansas, Anthony Glover scored a layup on a textbook pass from Cook to cut the lead to 75-73 and had a chance to be clutch at the foul line. He would miss the shot, continuing the poor foul shooting from the previous night as SJU shot only 48 percent from the line.
When Glover’s shot missed it was apparent that there would be no repeat miracle at the Garden as Kansas pulled away.
“Kansas is a great basketball team. We have nothing to be ashamed of,” said Jarvis