Rapid Reaction: St. John's 79, Columbia 66

WHAT IT MEANS: St. John's got a much-tougher game than most anticipated in its home opener at Carnesecca Arena, trailing Columbia 39-35 at the half before coming back to win, 79-66. Steve Lavin picks up his first win as the St. John's head coach. Columbia proves it can hang with a Big East team under fellow first-year coach Kyle Smith.

BETTER, BETTER: D.J. Kennedy, St. John's leading scorer a season ago, looked lethargic in the team's season-opening loss to St. Mary's on Monday night, taking just five shots and making just one of them. He was much more aggressive against Columbia, leading the team with 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting. Also, Justin Brownlee -- who scored just one point against St. Mary's -- had 15 points against Columbia, although he got in foul trouble for the second straight game.

MIXED BAG: Dwight Hardy -- St. John's second-leading scorer last season, who took only six shots Monday night -- was much more aggressive as well. But he had trouble from the field, finishing just 3-for-14.

BENCH HELP: Lavin went 10-deep tonight, and got key contributions from reserve guards Malik Stith and Paris Horne in particular. Stith knocked down three treys, while Horne had two triples and a driving lay-up. Stith also played well against St. Mary's, but Horne was practically invisible two nights ago.

LONG-RANGE ASSASSINS: St. John's has to do a better job of finding and guarding 3-point shooters. Clint Steindl of St. Mary's connected on seven of his 10 3-point attempts on Monday night. Tonight, Columbia freshman Dyami Starks drained five of seven 3-pointers in the first half alone.

WHAT'S NEXT: St. John's flies to Alaska on Monday to participate in the Great Alaska Shootout, starting a week from tonight against Ball State. Columbia travels to play Longwood on Saturday.