St. John's basketball shows little rust in demolition of lowly DePaul

Rick Pitino's team did not waste much time in Chicago

St. John's v Butler
St. John's v Butler / Michael Hickey/GettyImages

The St. John's basketball team nearly had a week off after cementing its place as an NCAA Tournament team following its victory against Butler. Everything the Red Storm needed to have happen on the bubble came to fruition and it would've been easy to look ahead.

There could've been a letdown traveling to Chicago for a battle with DePaul, who is winless in the Big East, but there wasn't and the Johnnies cruised, 104-77.

It tied the record for the most points scored against a Big East opponent, which was set in 1999 against Providence.

"For about 80-percent of the game, we can't play any better offensively," Rick Pitino said.

That will be the key for the Red Storm (18-12, 10-9 Big East) in its last two games of the regular season as the team tries to improve its metrics with blowout victories, and it certainly made its case for those numbers to rise on Tuesday night.

The Johnnies ended the night at No. 38 in the NET rankings, which should rise by the time the team wakes up on Wednesday. However, it only rose one spot -- No. 30 to No. 29 -- in KenPom.

"We are getting a lot better and you want to get better in March," Pitino added.

The turnaround of Jordan Dingle has been vital in the success of the Red Storm over the last two weeks, who has averaged 17.0 points per game in the Johnnies' four game winning streak.

Pitino said he's "probably the most improved player on the team this year."

DePaul's Chico Carter Jr. made things interesting in the first half making his first four shots, three of which were 3-pointers, but it was unsustainable for the Blue Demons (3-27, 0-19 Big East) as he would miss his final four shots of the half and see St. John's go into the locker room on a 30-4 run.

The run was sparked by Dingle and Chris Ledlum, who combined for 26 points in the first half.

Each player finished the victory with 19 points, which led the team, on a combined 16-of-21 shooting.

"We were totally focused tonight," the Hall of Famer continued. "We have respect for everybody."

St. John's shot 60.3-percent from the field and 52.2-percent from 3-point range and built its lead to as many as 44 points, 92-48. The Storm also recorded 26 assists on its 41 field goals, while only committing six turnovers.

St. John's will close the regular season against Georgetown (9-21, 2-17 Big East) on Saturday afternoon (12:00 p.m. ET, FOX) at Madison Square Garden.