Monday, January 31, 2011

Oh, Those Johnnies! Hardy Gets 26 as St. John's Humbles Duke

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, January 30, 2011

Following the spate of wins by unranked teams over those in the Top 25 (we're not calling them "upsets" anymore), Coach K and his Duke Blue Devils should have seen their annual trek to Madison Square Garden as more than a jaunty visit to the Big Apple for a win and some shopping.

St. John's Red Storm was ready and waiting for the #3 Blue Devils and came out with incredible energy and ran past Duke defenders like they weren't even there. In the first half - totally under the control of the Johnnies - they raced to a 46-25 lead to essentially put the contest to rest. Duke didn't help its cause by missing its first ten three-point attempts and hitting just one three in the first half. Meanwhile, St. John's was scoring on dunks, layups and short jumpers.

Duke tried to rally in the second half, to little avail, as the Red Storm just kept shooting and hitting, going 32-of-55 for the game (58%). They only shot five three-pointers, making three of them. when the buzzer sounded at the end of 40 minutes of frenetic St. John's styling, Duke had not only been vanquished, but humiliated, 93-78, the highest point total for the season for St. John's and the most - by a whopping 14 points - that Duke had given up all season.

Senior guard Dwight Hardy led the scoring party with 26 points, going 9-for-13 from the field with a pair of treys and 6-for-6 from the line. Fellow senior Mark Brownlee added 20 points and 9 rebounds. Seven st. John's players scored, five of them were in double figures.

Duke's Nolan Smith led all scorers with 32 points - one off his season's high. He and Kyle Singler (20 points) were the only Blue Devils in double figures.

The loss was just the second of the season for Duke (19-2) while St. John's improved to 12-8, ending a string of three straight losses and five in their last six. The win concluded a run of eight straight games in which the Red Storm faced a ranked opponent. They went 3-5 over that stretch, but the schedule doesn't get much easier. The Johnnies face Rutgers on Wednesday, then fly out to UCLA for a Saturday game before returning to New York to host #5 Connecticut.

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