|St. John's Head Coach Chris Mullin. Photo by Jason Schott.|
The Butler Bulldogs got off to a fast start against St. John's on Saturday afternoon at Hinkle Fieldhouse, as they opened up a 37-15 lead at halftime on their way to a comfortable 70-45 victory.
St. John's is now a woeful 0-10 in Big East Conference play on the season, 10-12 overall.
It was inevitable that St. John's would hit a point where they were deflated after seven of their first nine conference losses were by seven points or less. A lot of those losses, including Tuesday against Creighton at home, 68-63, went to the wire and were emotionally draining.
Butler was led by Kelan Martin, who had 19 points on 6-12 shooting, including 4-8 on three-pointers, with five rebounds and two steals. Paul Jorgensen had 13 points on 4-9 from the field, 3-6 on threes, four assists, and two rebounds. Kamar Baldwin had 12 points (4-12 FG, 2-5 on threes), seven rebounds, five assists, and a steal.
St. John's was held to 29.1 percent shooting, or 16-55 overall. They were just 5-21, or 23.8 percent, from behind the arc.
Tariq Owens led St. John's with 13 points on 6-8 from the field, including a three-pointer, with nine rebounds. He was the only St. John's player to score in double digits.
Shamorie Ponds, battling through an injury, was held to two points and was 0-12 from the field and 0-3 on threes, with three rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
St. John's Head Coach Chris Mullin said of the injury to Shamorie Ponds, “He seemed to feel okay before the game. I didn’t think he was moving great, but he came in okay.”
Mullin said of the game, “18% [shooting in the first half] is probably going to put a little dent in your day. … I thought we had some layups, open shots, free throws, you name it.”
On Butler’s Kamar Baldwin’s play, Mullin said, “He’s the leader of their team. He gets them out in the open floor and is dangerous pushing the ball in transition. He’s probably the number one guy offensively to contain when he’s out in transition. He has good experience and is a physically-strong player. He plays good defense. He’s a really good player.”
Mullin said of the future of the St. John's program, “We feel like the players we have, the five or six core players, have all improved individually. With a game like tonight, there’s no moral victories, but we’ve been pretty close in seven of these 10 [BIG EAST] games. There are all different reasons for that, but I’ve been around the game long enough to know that if you have good health and talent, you do well. We’ve got some good talent, have to mesh them together, get some continuity, and things will turn.”