Tuesday, February 6, 2024

St. John's Demolishes DePaul At UBS Arena


Shawn Conway (30) falling back after he released a three-pointer that made it 26-16 St. John's at the 8:50 mark of the first half. Photo by Jason Schott.

The St. John's Red Storm got what they needed on Tuesday night, making the most of one of their three appearances at UBS Arena this season as they rolled to an 85-57 victory over the DePaul Blue Demons.

This breaks a stretch in which St. John's lost five of six games and brings them back to .500 in Big East Conference play at 6-6 and improves their overall record to 14-9. That is significant because 20 victories is generally the benchmark to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

St. John's was led by their dynamic duo of Daniss Jenkins and Jordan Dingle, who each poured in 14 points. Jenkins did it on 5-8 shooting, including 4-6 on three-pointers, with three rebounds and three assists. Dingle shot 5-13 overall and 4-10 on threes, with five rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Joel Soriano had 11 points (3-7 FG), eight rebounds (including four on offense), and two assists.

St. John's did what was expected to start this one with DePaul, who fell to 0-12 in Big East play (3-20) overall, and raced out to a 33-17 lead when Nahiem Alleyne buried a layup at the 7:01 mark.

DePaul responded with a sudden 11-0 run over the next two minutes and 10 seconds, and it was a five-point game, 33-28. St. John's found stability as the first half wound down, and took a 38-29 lead into the break.

The second half began much as the first did for the Red Storm, as they raced out to a 15-4 run capped by a Jenkins layup on a fast break at the 14:52 mark that made it 48-33. That lead would balloon to 26 points, 61-35, on a pair of Zuby Ejiofor free throws at the 11:10 mark. SJU was well on their way to putting up 47 points on 50 percent shooting, or 16-32, and 9-20 from behind the arc.

The amazing thing is that, for the game as a whole, St. John's shot 42 percent (29-69) overall, slightly better than DePaul's 38.3 percent (18-47), but this game was won on the boards, with St. John's hauling in 45 rebounds, including 19 on the offensive end, to 18 for DePaul.

PITINO POSTGAME: St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino addressed the media after the win, and he opened with this statement: "We did a good job of moving the basketball in the beginning when we weren't making many shots. I told the guys, they are all good shots, keep shooting. I wasn't upset at Jordan Dingle for going 0-for-11 [on three-pointers in the last three games]. I was upset he didn't try to go 0-25. He was counting his misses and not moving enough to take the shots. I've been with him with every player development drill, and he sets all types of records with his shooting. I felt tonight, he came out and missed the first two or three and then he let it happen. We need that because he is a great shooter. He has improved his passing, and we needed that. [Daniss Jenkins], besides having a great year, he never takes a possession off. He is tougher on the guys than I am. He's tougher on the guys in a good way because he holds them accountable. He's having a phenomenal year. 

"I think we are seven or eight points away from being a ranked team and that sometimes happens in a first year. We took Creighton to the wire at Creighton, Connecticut to the wire in Connecticut, Marquette in The Garden. We could have won all those game, but we didn't because we don't do the little things that get you over the hump in those close ones. I'm happy tonight, in a lot of different areas, but I'm happy we got movement and let those shots fly."

On the volume of three-point shots: "I wanted movement and I wanted them to take open shots. I didn't want them to count their misses. [Opponents] are looking at the stat sheet and saying, 'give them the outside shot.'...I want them to take it, I'll take 40 threes if they can shoot 37 percent. I'll take that every night."

On Jordan Dingle: "This is something you don't see in the Jordan Dingle line; four assists, no turnovers and two steals. That's pretty good as well. Look, we need him to score. The more he moves, the more [Jenkins] will get him a wide-open shot. He is good off pick and rolls. He is a heck of a basketball player and is playing with other guys that are really good. He is improving and getting better. I want him taking more shots than he is taking, but 13 [shots] is pretty good. 10 threes is pretty good. I'm happy with that."

On Daniss Jenkins: "Look, he is the MVP of this basketball team. He is a great point guard. Good size, good athleticism, works every single possession on defense. Every possession the entire season and he works every possession in practice as well. I'm real proud of him."

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