A fan attending St. John’s Jan. 30 game against No. 3 Duke at Madison Square Garden arrived at his courtside seat and took off his coat. Underneath, he wore a red t-shirt bearing the popular “Beat Duke” slogan.
The Red Storm did, and in more convincing fashion than the man’s wardrobe choice.
St. John’s went on 13-4 run with 17:49 left in the first half that gave them the lead for good in its 93-78 win over the Blue Devils, the team’s first win over Duke in eight years and third this season against a ranked opponent.
“I was just thanking God for the opportunity to play the No. 3 team in the country and helping us get a win to build the momentum going into the rest of our games this season,” said senior Dwight Hardy, who led the team with 26 points on
The Red Storm (12-8, 4-5) forced 11 turnovers in the first half that led to 21 points. They also held senior Nolan Smith to just 1-of-4 shooting for the half and Duke (19-2, 6-1) to just 1-of-13 from 3-point range.
“I just felt we were not ready to compete,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We had blank looks on our faces and guys weren’t talking and that’s my responsibility.”
St. John’s shot 57 percent from the field and 26-of-33 from the free throw line, its 93 points the most since a three-overtime win over DePaul last season.
The Johnnies led by as many as 25 early in the second half and withstood a late Duke comeback that brought the lead down to
11 with about three minutes left to play.
“Duke is a tremendous team as everyone knows, so they are going to make plays,” senior forward Justin Burrell said. “They’re going to make shots, especially when it’s coming down to the end like that.
“But we stuck to our principles, got out in the passing lanes,” Burrell said. “And of course at the end of the game, when they tried to pressure a little bit, we got into our back-door cuts and made great plays off of those.”
St. John’s scored 50 points in the paint, attacking Duke forwards Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly, who each had four fouls.
In addition to the tandem of Burrell (eight points) and senior Justin Brownlee (20 points, nine rebounds), senior Sean Evans added a season-high 10 points off the bench in 11 minutes.
“It’s been a tough year for him,” senior forward Justin Burrell said. “He’s worked extremely hard, but the ball hasn’t bounced his way a lot. So we were really excited about him coming out and playing the way he did today—he really lifted our team.”
The win marked St. John’s eighth consecutive game against a ranked opponent, and entered the game losers of its last three and five of its last six.
Hardy named to weekly Honor Roll
Dwight Hardy earned a spot on the Big East’s weekly honor roll for the week of Jan. 24-30, marking the second time this season the senior guard has been recognized by the conference for his play.
Hardy averaged 18 points, four rebounds and 1.5 assists in for the Red Storm last week, shooting 44.8 percent from
the field and a 36.4 from the 3-point line.
On Jan. 3, he was named Big East Player of the Week for the first time since Daryll Hill was the Co-Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 3, 2005.
Brownlee gets treatment for fractured thumb
A day after helping St. John’s take down Duke, senior forward Justin Brownlee was treated for a fractured thumb.
X-rays revealed a non-displaced hairline fracture toward the end of Brownlee’s left thumb, according to an examination taken by the St. John’s medical staff. He was examined further by hand specialist Michelle Carlson, M.D., of the Hospital for Special Surgery, who fitted his thumb for a fiberglass splint.
Brownlee was cleared for practice by the medical staff and will not miss any time, according to head coach Steve Lavin.
Brownlee’s 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting against Duke marked the fourth 20-point game of his career.