While St. John’s got their record to 8-1 last night with a 68-60 win over Grand Canyon, there are still areas of the game they need to fix.
- St. John’s (8-1) 68
- Grand Canyon (5-2) 60
- Final, Box Score
- Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ
Late Tuesday night in Phoenix, St. John’s was able to pick up their eighth win of the season with a 68-60 victory over Grand Canyon. Shamorie Ponds led the way with 28 points, six rebounds, four assists, and five steals while Justin Simon had 17 points to go along with 11 rebounds.
Despite Ponds’ and Simon’s success, there were a few concerns to take away from the early morning contest on the East Coast. For one, it is rebounding, which was going to be an issue for the Red Storm all season because of their lack of size.
Yes, the Johnnies did outrebound the Antelopes 34-28 from a defensive standpoint, but it is the amount of offensive rebounds St. John’s gave up that was concerning.
In total, Grand Canyon had the edge, 18-8, with Keonta Vaughn nearly having as many offensive boards (seven) as the entire St. John’s team, which was somewhat fortunate that the Antelopes only had 16 second-chance points.
Another concern was that without Marcus LoVett in the lineup, it was tough for the Red Storm to get scoring from someone other than Ponds or Simon. Out of the 36 points St. John’s had in the second half, those two players combined to put up 23 of those.
Other than that duo, the other six players who played for the Johnnies were 7-for-25 from the floor. Marvin Clark II did have 10 points but got into foul trouble early in the second half.
In that second half, the Red Storm were 1-for-6 from downtown, but Ponds and Simon did a good job getting in isolation and driving the ball to the basket. It was good to see Ponds take over a game, something he might have to do in conference play.
As far as turnovers go, the Red Storm had 18 of them with the two starting guards combining for ten of them. You have to give Grand Canyon some credit as they have had one of the best scoring defenses in the country (60 points allowed per game) and they made St. John’s make mistakes. However, there were times they had trouble just inbounding the ball towards the end of the game.
As the Red Storm prepare to take on No. 16 Arizona State on Friday night, they will need to find some secondary scoring from Bashir Ahmed (seven points on 3-for-12 shooting last night) and others if they want to keep up with the Sun Devils great offense.
Now, for the positives, St. John’s continued to play great defense. They held Grand Canyon to 30 percent shooting from the floor, just 8-for-32 from three-point range, and they forced 21 turnovers (22 points off of turnovers).
For St. John’s, it is the third straight game that they have forced 20 or more turnovers. They continue to force the opponent to make bad passes and take contested shots, which is a good sign.
Plus, Tariq Owens was solid in the paint with three blocked shots. Last night gave him the fourth straight game with three or more blocks and he has 15 blocks over that stretch. Yes, he had three turnovers, but he has been a strong defensive presence all season long.
In the end, it is just like the UCF win last month. Regardless of what happens, you take a win any way you can. For the Red Storm, they are now 8-1 and they get a chance for a signature win Friday. Despite the success, there are still ways for this team to get better as conference play gets closer.