The St. John’s basketball team bludgeoned Butler in the Big East Tournament opener.
The kings of Wednesday at the Big East Tournament retook its throne as the St. John’s basketball team dominated Butler in the week’s opening game.
St. John’s (18-14) has now won six straight times it has played on the first day of the tournament since the league’s realignment and its only time not playing on Wednesday — 2020-21 — the Red Storm earned a bye into the quarterfinals but fell to Seton Hall in its first game.
However, this was one of the easier victories for the Johnnies in quite some time.
Mike Anderson saw his team rip off an 14-2 run midway through the first half to seize control of the Bulldogs and never looked back winning, 76-63.
St. John’s led by as many as 21 points, 54-33, in the second half and the play of Posh Alexander continued to impress as the junior energized the No. 8 seed.
Alexander finished with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting and made 3-of-7 attempts from 3-point range as he’s now connected on 7-of-15 triples over the last three games after making just two in his previous 11 contests.
“I was in my own head at the beginning of the year,” Alexander said of his shooting woes earlier in the year.
“Just confidence. That’s it, just confidence.”
The offensive development from the Red Storm point guard gives the entire offense a new dimension and allows more room in the half court for other, like Joel Soriano, to work.
“People have to guard him and now it creates space,” head coach Mike Anderson said.
“It spaces the floor and I think it allows him to do the things he does…not just shooting the ball but creating for others.”
Soriano, an All-Big East Second Team selection and the league’s Most Improved Player, notched his 24th double-double of the season with 19 points and 15 rebounds as he helped the Johnnies dominate the backboards, 53-28.
Butler (14-18) was without Manny Bates and Eric Hunter Jr. (not meeting academic expectations of the program), who combine to average 9.3 rebounds per game, while Simas Lukosius and Jalen Thomas combined for 43 points for the ‘Dawgs.
The Bulldogs made a run midway in the second half to cut the St. John’s leads to 10, 63-53, but Soriano and Dylan Addae-Wusu pushed the Red Storm advantage back to 15, 68-53, to allow the Johnnies to cruise to the finish line.
St. John’s basketball still with issues to fix as No. 1 seed awaits
St. John’s gets a date with top-seeded Marquette (25-6, 17-3 Big East) after its victory over Butler, but the team still much fix its free throw line woes, shooting 10-for-16 on Wednesday, if it wants a shot at knocking off the Golden Eagles.
The Red Storm were also just 12-of-28 on layups in its victory over Butler and committed 14 turnovers which led to 21 points for the Bulldogs.
St. John’s will be looking to make its first appearance in the Big East Tournament semifinals since 2000 with a victory on Thursday afternoon after blowing a 17-point lead in the quarterfinals last year to Villanova.
Marquette swept St. John’s this season, with its most recent victory coming by just two points, 96-94, on Saturday in Milwaukee.
Tipoff between the Red Storm and Golden Eagles is 12:00p.m. (FS1).