St. John's basketball gets spark from RJ Luis to survive Georgetown's upset bid

The sparkplug forward came up big when the Red Storm needed him most
Mar 9, 2024; New York, New York, USA; St. John's Red Storm guard RJ Luis Jr. (12) looks to drive
Mar 9, 2024; New York, New York, USA; St. John's Red Storm guard RJ Luis Jr. (12) looks to drive / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The pressure was on the shoulders of the St. John's basketball team.

It was very apparent.

A game they couldn't lose at home against lowly Georgetown (9-22, 2-18 Big East) and the Hoyas had the Johnnies on the ropes before RJ Luis took the game into his own hands.

Luis did it at both ends for the Red Storm scoring 14 points in the second half, after just two points in the first half, and forcing Hoyas star Jayden Epps into difficult situations, missing his final four shots despite scoring 23 points.

It resulted in an 86-78 victory and a massive sigh of relief from the 16,127 fans that packed Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon.

"RJ [Luis], doesn't like to have on his resume that he is a great defensive player, but he saved us on the offensive glass, saved us with scoring, and saved us with great defense on Epps," Rick Pitino said after the victory.

Luis' steal from Epps and breakaway dunk was the turning point of the game and extended the St. John's lead to seven, 69-62, with 4:44 left.

He would add four more points on a layup after getting his own offensive rebound on a missed finger roll as the shot clock was set to expire and a jumper with 1:17 left before icing the game at the free throw line.

Luis played the final 15:11 of the victory.

"[RJ Luis] is not in shape to play like he did tonight," Pitino added, hinting at the lingering shin splints that the UMass transfer has dealt with this season that affects his ability to practice.

Pitino asked Luis during a timeout to guard the Georgetown star and he accepted, saying he needed to "step up and slow him down."

St. John's (19-12, 11-9 Big East) was 15-of-20 on 2-point field goals in the second half and shot 60.4-percent from the field in the win. Daniss Jenkins led the way with 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting but had seven turnovers.

Chris Ledlum quietly had an incredible afternoon for the Johnnies with 14 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting.

St. John's earned the most wins in the Big East since it won 12 games during the 2010-11 season.

The Red Storm still do not know what seed it will be in the Big East Tournament, but St. John's can be no higher than No. 5 or no lower than No. 6, although it's a massive difference whether the team gets a bye into the quaterfinals or must play on the opening day of the event on Wednesday night.

The full bracket will be released on Saturday night.

Next. St. John's seeding possibilities for Big East Tournament. St. John's seeding possibilities for Big East Tournament. dark