WHAT IT MEANS: St. John's blew a big opportunity. Rutgers picked up a big road win.
In a battle of two young teams trying to climb the Big East ladder, the Scarlet Knights bested the Red Storm on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, 58-56.
Rutgers improves to 11-3 overall and, more importantly, 2-1 in Big East play. St. John's falls to 9-6 and 1-2.
THE TURNING POINT: Rutgers sprinted out of the gates, taking a 13-2 lead less than seven minutes in, thanks in part to three early treys. But St. John's dominated the rest of the half. The Scarlet Knights got sloppy with the basketball, and the Red Storm capitalized on the fast break, taking a 27-23 lead into the locker room.
Rutgers regained the lead within the first minute of the second half, but then it changed hands numerous times after that. The game came down to the final play. With Rutgers leading 58-56 and 6.6 seconds left, Mike Poole missed the second of two free throws. St. John's forward Jakarr Sampson got the rebound and took the ball down the floor but missed a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have won the game.
STAR WATCH: Only two seniors played in this game, both for Rutgers, and they stepped up when it counted most. Dane Miller scored 11 points, all of them coming in the second half. He also had six rebounds and three assists. And reserve big man Austin Johnson added 10 points off the bench.
D'Angelo Harrison had 20 points to lead St. John's, despite shooting only 5-for-15 from the field. He was 8-for-12 from the foul line but had some critical misses down the stretch. Sampson had 12 points, and Sir'Dominic Pointer added 10 off the bench.
NUMBER CRUNCH: St. John's shot 15-for-27 from the foul line, 55.6 percent, and it cost the Red Storm dearly.
WHAT'S NEXT: St. John's will play the second of three consecutive games at the Garden, hosting No. 19 Georgetown on Saturday at 11 a.m. ET. Rutgers also welcomes a ranked opponent, No. 21 Cincinnati, on Saturday at 8 p.m.