St. John’s basketball: RJ Luis shines in return as Johnnies rout Holy Cross

St. John's basketball forward RJ Luis (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's basketball forward RJ Luis (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /

The St. John’s basketball team routed Holy Cross in its first game as a complete team. 

RJ Luis made his anticipated debut with the St. John’s basketball team on Saturday night and it did not disappoint.

The UMass transfer, who was sidelined for nearly seven weeks with a broken left hand, came off the bench in the 91-45 victory for the Red Storm over Holy Cross and added 14 points and four rebounds on 6-of-12 shooting.

“He’s one of the most gifted players that I have coached,” Rick Pitino said following the victory.

Luis helped force a steal during the first possession he was on the floor, which ultimately ended in a fast break layup for his first points of the season.

“So many good things going forward are going to happen to him,” Pitino added.

It was possible for RJ Luis to return on Sunday evening against Utah in the 3rd Place Game of the Charleston Classic but the Miami native did not feel comfortable playing in a game with only one practice over a six week period.

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The 6-foot-7 forward was thought of as one of the best offensive additions for the team in the transfer portal and he knows that he has a lot more to give on the floor.

“Humbly, I would say tonight was about 40-percent,” Luis said of how he performed in his first game back.

His addition back in the rotation means Pitino has another weapon to use at forward, a position that has been extremely thin for the Johnnies this season.

“We want to play (Luis) at [power forward]. He’s a point forward, he really is a natural,” Pitino added. The Hall of Famer also mentioned that they plan to use RJ Luis at shooting guard and small forward.

St. John’s basketball wakes up defensively after sluggish start

The 46-point margin of victory did not necessarily look like it was going to happen in the early going after Holy Cross (2-5) started the game shooting 70-percent from the floor and held an 18-10 lead.

St. John’s (4-2) would turn the pressure up defensively and outscore the Crusaders 81-27 over the final 32 minutes of the game.

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Joel Soriano would prove to be too much down low for Holy Cross to handle as the All-Big East center finished with 16 points and six rebounds on 8-of-9 shooting in just 16 minutes.

The Red Storm forced 20 turnovers, which resulted in 27 points, and held Holy Cross to 25-percent shooting after halftime.

Another tough test will await St. John’s on Friday night as the Johnnies will travel to West Virginia (2-3) for the Big East vs. Big 12 Challenge (7:00p.m. EST, ESPN2).

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