St. John's three-game winning streak was snapped by No. 9/9 UConn at the XL Center (Hartford, Conn.) on New Year's Eve, as the Queens, N.Y. squad fell to the Huskies (12-1, 2-0 BIG EAST) 83-69.
The Red Storm (7-6, 1-1) had a difficult time getting their game started, allowing UConn to go on a balanced attack inside and out in both halves. As a result, the Huskies remain perfect in defending its home court, while the Johnnies drop to 0-3 in games on the road.
The Red Storm did little to slow down the offensive grinding of 6-foot-10, 270-pound freshman center Andre Drummond and 6-foot-1, 171-pound sophomore guard Shabazz Napier. Drummond was hard to prevent from finishing at the rim, while Napier handled the facilitation of the offense while getting buckets down himself.
Napier finished with 17 points on 5-of-6 from the field, which included two 3-pointers, and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. He also had nine assists. Meanwhile, teammate Drummond recorded 16 points on 7-of-11 from the field and 2-of-3 from the charity stripe, to go along with 11 boards.
UConn's sophomore swingman Jeremy Lamb heavily contributed to the offense, finishing with 15 points on 5-of-9 from the field, which included four treys.
UConn had a solid-shooting game, knocking down 60.4 percent (29-of-48) from the field and 56.3 percent (9-of-16) from beyond the arc.
Building off of its first-half lead, the Huskies led by as much as 23 points, 70-47, at the 7:13 mark of the second half when junior forward Alex Oriakhi (six points, seven rebounds) scored on a jumper assisted by teammate freshman forward DeAndre Daniels.
St. John's did not go on a substantial run until the 6:59 mark of the second stanza, exploiting a seemingly weakened UConn defense. The Johnnies used a 9-0 run that was sparked by two free throws from D'Angelo Harrison (17 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals) and capped by another pair of free throws - this time from God's Gift Achiuwa (16 points, five rebounds) with 5:20 remaining in the matchup. As a result, UConn led 70-56.
The Red Storm attempted to stay the course with some fundamental plays, chipping the deficit down to as low as 11 points, 72-61, at the 2:48 mark of the second stanza on a rebound and power dunk by Sir'Dominic Pointer.
A great second-half, all-around effort by Pointer helped usual, offensive generators freshman swingman Moe Harkless (16 points, six rebounds) and Harrison produce. Pointer finished with 14 points and eight boards.
However, the Johnnies' momentum was stunted by UConn's freshman guard Ryan Boatright (10 points), who nailed a pair of free throws and drained a 3-pointer within the next minute.
Despite shooting 50 percent from the field in the second half, St. John's shot a dismal 36.2 percent (21-of-58) from the field, overall.
Shooting only 25 percent (8-of-32) in the first half, the Red Storm trailed the Huskies 38-25 at halftime.
UConn's six blocks in the first half served as a great deterrent to St. John's attacking the rim, as the Huskies' advantage grew to as much as 14 points, 35-21, in the stanza.
The Huskies stayed strong off the glass and effective in capitalizing off of those golden opportunities, outrebounding the Storm 32-28 in the contest.
St. John's never held an advantage in the matchup.