The mostly breathtaking offensive showcase that was on display two nights ago vanished. The pressure defense that forced their opponent to wilt was nonexistent. The relentless end-to-end pace was slowed.
Against a quality foe that set tempo to more of a half-court game, St. John’s tasted defeat for the first time this year.
BYU’s size, length and shooting was too much to overcome for Mike Anderson’s team in a frustrating 74-68 setback at the Mohegan Sun bubble in Uncasville, Conn., on Wednesday.
Only Julian Champagnie was a consistent factor offensively, scoring 25 points, while the Johnnies made just 4 of 21 3-point attempts, were unable to impose their tempo and just couldn’t piece together nearly enough quality stretches. Some of that was due to questionable shot selection. Part of it was being unable to get out in transition enough.
Posh Alexander, the freshman point guard who has been so impressive early on, managed just four points on 2 of 7 shooting, though he did have seven assists and six rebounds. Vince Cole was limited to four points.
A day after struggling mightily in a one-sided loss to USC, BYU made 10 3-pointers and used the Red Storm’s aggressiveness against them, creating open shots to slow whatever momentum the team from Queens had. Alex Barcello, a thorn in the Johnnies’ side, scored 20 points on 8 of 11 shooting.
Following a shaky first half, St. John’s played with more of a purpose coming out of the break. It pushed pace, picked up full court and moved the ball better. After an Isaih Moore dunk, the lead was down to just two. The Johnnies pulled even at 43 when Champagnie scored inside.
But a drought that lasted 3:02 followed and BYU pushed the lead back to five. With 7:17 left, Greg Williams Jr. scored on a drive to get St. John’s back within two again.
However, BYU punched back, as it had done the entire game, scoring the next seven points. St. John’s did have one last run, getting within four with 44.6 seconds left after a 6-0 run.
Fittingly for this frustrating game, after Brandon Averette missed two free throws, St. John’s was unable to secure the carom, Gideon George hit a free throw and Cole missed a 3-pointer.
After scoring 97 points in Monday night’s victory over Boston College, St. John’s looked flat early. It failed to get out in transition. It settled for far too many jump shots early in the shot clock, not attacking nearly enough, and was surprisingly outscored in transition, 8-4.
Alexander went scoreless in the opening half with two turnovers and forwards Moore and Marcellus Earlington went 2 of 11 from the field, many of those misses rushed jump shots that weren’t close.
Nine of the Johnnies’ first 18 shots were 3-pointers, and they finished the opening 20 minutes making only 29 percent from the field. A 12-0 BYU run, turning a three-point deficit into a nine-point lead, coincided with Anderson going deep into his bench and a field-goal drought of 7:05. The Cougars led 29-23 at halftime, a lead that could’ve been larger had they not committed eight turnovers.