St. John’s basketball puts on offensive clinic in impressive win over Xavier

St. John's basketball center Joel Soriano (Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's basketball center Joel Soriano (Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports) /

It was an offensive clinic put on by the St. John’s basketball team against Xavier. 

Every time the St. John’s basketball team faces its back up against a wall the Johnnies seemingly come through.

Wednesday night was no different.

After tough home losses against Villanova and UConn, without Posh Alexander, the sophomore point guard returned from his ankle injury to orchestrate an 86-73 road upset victory over Xavier.

“Having him back was huge. He pushed the pace, played some great defense. I’m really proud of him, honestly. We are really thankful for the way he played today,” St. John’s forward Julian Champagnie said of Alexander.

St. John’s (14-11, 6-8 Big East) point guard didn’t have his rhythm shooting the basketball but was a star in all other aspects of the game with eight points, one rebound, four assists, and four steals.

“He’s a leader. He leads through effort,” head coach Mike Anderson said of Alexander following the game.

The team was led by Champagnie’s 27 points and shot 54.0-percent from the field and 40.0-percent from 3-point range.

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Xavier (17-8, 7-7 Big East) was able to take a 57-56 lead with 11:50 left in the second half but it was all Red Storm as the Johnnies used a 16-3 run to seize control of the game and extend its lead to as many as 16 points, 86-70, in the final minutes.

“We got out and ran. That was the biggest thing. We were able to get out and run the floor,” Champagnie said as St. John’s turned 14 turnovers from Xavier into 21 points.

The victory was the first for the Johnnies in the Cintas Center since February 14, 2015 and the program has won two straight against the Musketeers after dropping 12 in a row.

St. John’s basketball gets contributions from entire roster

Tareq Coburn put together his best game in a St. John’s uniform with 13 points off the bench on 5-of-8 shooting and 3-of-3 from 3-point range in 15 minutes.

“He’s getting more confident and trusting himself. He’s been playing the defensive part of it. It was just a matter of time before he started breaking out and making shots,” Anderson said.

Coburn had missed his last seven 3-point attempts prior to Wednesday’s game and was 1-for-14 from the floor.

“That’s what we expect from Tareq [Coburn] and everyone who comes off the bench,” Champagnie said.

Montez Mathis was inserted back into the starting lineup and continued his strong play after an impressive showing against UConn with 10 points, four rebounds, and three assists on 5-of-8 shooting.

St. John’s will have another quick turnaround and return home to face Butler (13-13, 6-9 Big East) after narrowly escaping Hinkle Fieldhouse with a victory two weeks ago.

Tip-off between the Red Storm and Bulldogs is slated for 5:00 p.m. on Friday evening in Queens.

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