NEWARK, N.J. – The Big East is altered in membership from a few years ago but still remains a very tough, competitive league. Just ask Steve Lavin.
“This league is so good,” the St. John’s coach said after Seton Hall defeated the Red Storm 78-67 on New year’s eve. “You have to Bring your ‘A’ game and even then there are times that is not to guarantee a victory. Especially on the road.”
St. John’s entered the Prudential Center with a No. 15 national ranking. They exited the arena 0-1 in the Big East. The Red Storm were victimized by Sterling Gibbs’ outstanding performance, highlighted by 25 points.
“He played as well as any guard did against us while I have been at St. John’s,” Lavin praised.
It wasn’t all Giibs as Jared Sina added 14 points and freshman forward Angel Delgado muscled his way for 13 points and 12 rebounds.
St. John’s saw D’Angelo Harrison tie Gibbs for game-high scoring honors with 25 points. On the defensive side they were deficient in closing out on the Seton Hall perimeter shooters. The Hall shot 10 of 23 (44 %) from downtown, with a number of looks uncontested. St. John’s also made some questionable offensive decisions, especially in closing out the initial half. Leading by three with two minutes left in the half, a few ill-fated possessions allowed Seton Hall to go on an 8-0 run. It was a game-changing run that saw the pirates take a 5 point lead, and the momentum, into intermission.
In the second half, St. John’s made a run, trimming a 14-point deficit to two with just over five minutes left. Seton Hall never lost the lead and responded with a game-clinching run of their own.
Both teams exited the Rock at 11-2 with a decided difference. For Seton Hall, it was a “feel good” attitude after a solid win. St. John’s meanwhile, has some soul searching to correct a few problems with Butler (Saturday) and Villanova (Tuesday at MSG) coming up next. As Lavin assessed, the conference has changed, but there are still no nights off.
Big East Tempo Free leaders as of January 2
Efficiency Margin (offense-minus defense)
1. Villanova 28
2. Xavier 22
3. St. John’s 20
Offensive Efficiency leaders
1. Xavier 115
2. Villanova 113
3. Seton Hall, Georgetown 106
1, St. John’s 82
2. Butler 84
3. Villanova 85
(all games included, numbers courtesy of bbstate,com)