Madison Square Garden-St. John’s men’s basketball team won its 10th-straight season opener on Tuesday as the Johnnies blew pass Stony Brook 90-74 at the iconic Carneseca Arena.
This is the third time that both team competed at Madison Square Garden. Their first contest was January 2, 1965 as the Johnnies took down the Maize and Blue, 75-74, in the legendary head coach Joe Lapchick’s final season at the helm for the Red Storm.
Michigan, who is 1-4 all-time, last played St. John’s 23 years ago in the BB&T Classic (Dec 3, 2000) at the MCI Center in Washington, DC. Despite huge games from Bernard Robinson, Jr. and Lavell Blanchard who both scored 18 points apiece in the 97-83 loss.
Michigan took advantage of St. Johns’ inability to guard Dug McDaniel who lead the Wolverines with 26 points that helped beat the Johnnies 89-73 in front of 14,188 at the Garden.
“We were dominated by a point guard, and when he wasn’t scoring, he was finding open people, so our rotations weren’t there. I think some of our guys were exposed a little bit in terms of rotations but that’ll come. They’ll get better at that. They didn’t expect to get beat that easily tonight. We haven’t been yet and our rotations were not good. But [Michigan] shoots it sometimes at four and even five positions when they sub and that’s a difficult team to guard if they get by you.” SJU head coach Rick Pitino said.
With the win, the Wolverines now has a 26-11 record at Madison Square Garden. UM has won its last 11 games at “The World Famous Arena”.
The game was high octane from the tip-off both team raced up and down the court like greyhounds with the Maize and Blue leading the way 37-35 with 2:44 to go before the half. Nimari Burnet was hot and led the Wolverines in that frame with 19 points but went into the break leading all scorers with 21.
The Wolverines shot 55% (18-33) from the floor and 43% (6-14) from downtown to build 48-38 lead going into the break. Burnet and McDaniel set the tone in the first-half with McDaniel pouring in 13 points along with 4 assists and 4 boards.
In the second half, it was pretty much the same turnovers and missed open looks. Late in the game St. John’s fans who remained left when the Wolverines’ lead blew up to 24 points, 78-54, on layup by McDaniel with about seven minutes left in the contest.
Joel Soriano, who finished the game with 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting; much of the evening he battled for position and all of his shots was contested. Jordan Dingle was on fire in the first half with 8 points but fizzled out in the second. He finished the game with 10 along with teammate Darniss Jenkins.
“The statement was to come out there and to make a statement. Come out there and do it for forty minutes on the defensive end and offensive end. Offensively, execution was critical. And then defensively, as you guys saw we had to limit their [the Red Storm’s] rebounds because we were getting stops, we just had to limit offensive rebounds. Stops were critical, and we executed the game plan ultimately.” UM Terrance Williams said.
Soriano converted a three-point play with 16:21 to play to trim the deficit to nine points but they wouldn’t get any closer than that for the remainder of the game.
The Maize and Blue responded with an 8-0 run in less than two minutes, which started when McDaniel scored on a fast break layup then made a pair of free throws from the charity stripe line. UM went by 13 points, Reed blocked Glenn Taylor layup, then threw an outlet pass to McDaniel who hit Tray Jackson with a crisp pass for a rim rocker fast-break dunk.
Johnnies outrebounded Michigan 47-39 and had a 33-14 second chance advantage but couldn’t finish shots around the cup in the second half.
“I can tell you from coaching a long time, even when I had teams, they don’t play their best basketball until January, February where they really excel and we will, we’ll excel in January or February, but we better be careful because this early schedule is tough”. Pitino said.
Michigan will host Long Beach State on Friday, Nov. 17 for a 7:00 P.M. start time on B1G+.
St. John’s will travel and play North Texas on Thursday, Nov 16 for a 1:30 P.M. start time.