St. John’s showed its improvement since last year with a win over Butler in the Big East opener, but Sunday’s home game was still DePaul’s best chance to avoid a goose egg in Big East play this year. The Blue Demons fell to the Johnnies, 79-73, sending them to 0-2 in the Big East with eight straight losses against high-major opponents.
DePaul (7-8, 0-2) started hot Sunday, grabbing a 17-5 lead in the first seven minutes. St. John’s (8-7, 2-0) stormed back to take a 27-24 lead minutes later, but the Demons recovered to take a seven-point lead into halftime.
The Demons maintained their lead into the final nine minutes. However, Red Storm forwards Tariq Owens and Darien Williams took over in crunch time, and freshman guards Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett made enough free throws in the final minutes to leave Allstate Arena with their third straight win.
LoVett led St. John’s with 22 points and 6 assists while Ponds had 15 points and 4 steals.
Sophomore guard Eli Cain led DePaul with 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting.
All three victories during the Red Storm’s streak have come against high-major opponents, a first for the Chris Mullin era. If the Johnnies can upset Creighton on Wednesday, they will have a four-game winning streak for the first time in Mullin’s two-year tenure regardless of opponent quality.
Meanwhile, DePaul is staring down its fifth straight loss. The Blue Demons should be double-digit underdogs at Seton Hall on Saturday.
Checking In: Is DePaul the worst high-major team in college basketball?
After Sunday’s loss, the Demons dropped to No. 177 in KenPom. Washington State and Oregon State are the only high-major teams ranked outside the top 200, and Missouri is slightly behind DePaul at No. 180. Boston College snuck back ahead of the Blue Demons after routing Syracuse, jumping up to No. 175.