St. John's stuns Villanova for big week

Posted: February 8, 2018 at 2:18 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA -- St. John's took down another of the nation's elite, and stunned No. 1 Villanova 79-75 on Wednesday night for its second victory over a top-five team this week -- and first over the top-ranked team in 33 years.

Shamorie Ponds scored 26 points to spark the Red Storm (12-13, 1-11 Big East) to its first conference victory of the season and easily their best week since Chris Mullin was in uniform, not the coach.

Mullin played for St. John's when it beat No. 1 Georgetown 66-65 on Jan. 26, 1985. And he was on the sideline exhorting his players in the final minutes of this shocker.

St. John's beat then-No. 4 Duke 81-77 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, snapping an 11-game losing streak. It was the first victory for St. John's since Dec. 20 against Saint Joseph's.

The Wildcats (22-2, 9-2) ended a nine-game winning streak and will surely tumble from the top of the national rankings, where they've spent the last five weeks at No. 1.

Jalen Brunson, a leading candidate for national player of the year, nearly rallied Villanova to victory down the stretch. He made a jumper and scored on a fastbreak set up by Omari Spellman's blocked shot to make it 67-63. St. John's turned the ball over off the inbounds play and Brunson, who led the Wildcats with 28 points, made the Red Storm pay on a crashing layup that sent him to the line. He hit the free throw to pull Villanova to 67-66 with 1:34 left.

St. John's wasn't giving this one up.

Marvin Clark II flexed his muscles toward the St. John's bench when he was fouled on a bucket. He sank the free throw to push the Red Storm's lead back to four.

Collin Gillespie nearly helped make it 10 consecutive victories for the Wildcats when he pulled them to 74-73 on a three-pointer with 23 seconds left. But that was about the only clutch three of the game for the Wildcats -- they missed 24 of 33 attempts.

In other Top 25/SEC men's games Wednesday, Devon Hall scored 17 points, Ty Jerome added 15 and No. 2 Virginia rallied in the second half to beat Florida State 59-55. Kyle Guy scored 10 of his 13 points in the final 20 minutes for the Cavaliers (23-1 Atlantic Coast Conference). MJ Walker paced the Seminoles (17-6, 6-6) with 10 points, and Phil Cofer added nine. ... Keita Bates-Diop scored 18 points, including the decisive putback with 2.8 seconds left, to give No. 14 Ohio State a 64-63 upset at No. 3 Purdue. The Buckeyes (21-2, 12-1 Big Ten) grabbed a share of the conference lead as Ohio State won for the 11th time in 12 games. Carsen Edwards finished with a career-high 28 points to lead the Boilermakers (23-3, 12-1). ... Freshman guard Zhaire Smith scored a career-high 21 points, including a steal that led to his alley-oop slam, and No. 7 Texas Tech beat Iowa State 76-58 for its fifth consecutive victory. Jarrett Culver added 16 points for the Red Raiders (20-4, 8-3 Big 12). Cameron Lard had a career-high 22 points on 10-of-11 shooting for already short-handed Iowa State (12-11, 3-8). ... Duane Wilson made one of two free throws with four seconds left to lift Texas A&M to an 81-80 upset of No. 8 Auburn. The Aggies (16-8, 5-6 SEC) held on for their third consecutive victory after squandering a 17-point lead in the second half. Freshman guard T.J. Starks scored a career-high 23 points. Mustapha Heron led Auburn (21-3, 9-2) with 28 points. ... Lonnie Walker IV scored 19 points to lead No. 25 Miami to an 87-81 victory over Wake Forest. Walker's two free throws with eight seconds left sealed it for Miami (18-5, 7-4 Atlantic Coast Conference). Bryant Crawford scored 23 points and Chaundee Brown finished with 20 for Wake Forest (9-15, 2-10). ... Jalen Hudson scored 18 points, including a crucial, three-point play with 1:15 remaining, and Florida beat LSU 73-64 to end a three-game losing streak in SEC play. Florida (16-8, 7-4 SEC) got back on defense, had improved ball movement and shot selection, and even outscored the Tigers (13-10, 4-8) in the paint. ... Riley LaChance and Saben Lee both scored 19 points and Vanderbilt made 11 shots from three-point range in an 81-66 win over struggling Georgia. It was a badly needed victory for the last-place Commodores (9-15, 3-8 SEC), who lost seven of their previous nine. Georgia (13-10, 4-7) lost for the seventh time in nine games as its postseason hopes continued to fade.

Sports on 02/08/2018