St. John’s basketball overcomes awful start to blowout Nebraska

St. John's basketball guard Andre Curbelo (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's basketball guard Andre Curbelo (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /

The St. John’s basketball team overcame an awful start to dominate Nebraska in Queens. 

The first half of the St. John’s basketball game against Nebraska was not for the faint of heart.

With legendary head coach Lou Carnesecca in the building, the Red Storm shot 8-of-34 from the floor and missed all ten of its 3-point attempts as the Cornhuskers opened up a seven point lead, 27-20, at the break.

Nebraska’s lead easily could have been more had the St. John’s defense not been connected since the opening tip, but a switched flipped in the second half and the Johnnies looked like a different team.

“Nerves were going. You could see it,” head coach Mike Anderson said of his team’s first half performance.

“I could hardly recognize our team. But the one thing they continued to do is play defense.”

But in the second half St. John’s played offense, and a ton of it.

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The Red Storm (4-0) outscored Nebraska (2-1) 53-20 in the second half, cruising to a 70-50 victory.

The Johnnies connected on 52.5-percent of its shots from the floor and 45.5-percent from 3-point range after halftime in part to the dominant showing of Joel Soriano with a career high 17 points and 18 rebounds, the most rebounds by a St. John’s player since 2005.

“I just wanted to match their physicality. I wanted to go out and play hard,” Soriano explained of his career-best performance.

However, it was Illinois transfer Andre Curbelo who set the tone in the second half for the Red Storm after he was scoreless in the first half on five shots.

Curbelo was 3-for-5 from the floor in the second half with seven points, seven assists, and four steals.

“I thank God everyday for bringing [Andre Curbelo] here,” Soriano said following the game.

St. John’s basketball forward continues to impress

David Jones was scoreless in the first half in limited minutes due to foul trouble, much like the rest of the St. John’s team, but the DePaul transfer got going in the second half with 15 points and eight rebounds as the strong start to his Red Storm career continued.

Jones has scored at least 15 points in each of his first four games in Queens as he has proven to be a volume scorer and a player the Johnnies can turn to when looking for instant offense.

“[David Jones] is a guy that goes on runs by himself sometimes,” Anderson said.

Jones rattled off ten straight points for the Red Storm which turned a 36-30 lead into a 46-33 advantage for the Johnnies.

Rafael Pinzon was limited to just three minutes after leaving the game with an ankle injury, according to Mike Anderson, as he had a bag of ice around his ankle and was immediately put into a walking boot on the bench.

St. John’s plays its first game away from Carnesecca Arena on Monday night as the Red Storm will battle Temple (1-2) in the Empire Classic (9:30p.m., ESPNU) at the Barclays Center.