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Hardy and St. John's continue to roll

St. John's Red Storm's Dwight Hardy driving the

St. John's Red Storm's Dwight Hardy driving the baseline against Cincinnati Bearcats' Deonta Vaughn in the second. (January 13, 2010) Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Non-believers will belittle St. John’s 67-65 win over Providence.

It’s understandable if there are some who aren’t convinced that St. John’s (9-3, 2-0 Big East) has turned the corner. After all, Providence hasn’t been a factor in the Big East since the early Tim Welsh days.

But Providence, despite the dismissal of its best player from last year Jamine Peterson, is better this season. Syracuse needed nearly every minute to hold off the Friars (11-4, 0-2) last week. So it does make the Red Storm’s win in Rhode Island on Saturday look a little better.

What really makes St. John’s win over Providence impressive is that it came on the heels of a road win against West Virginia. The Red Storm hadn’t beaten the Mountaineers since 2002. Their road woes against West Virginia go even further than that. It was their first win in Morgantown since 2000.

Incidentally, it’s the first time since the 1999-2000 campaign that the Red Storm had won two straight conference road games and had a share of first place this early in the season.

You can thank senior guard Dwight Hardy, who led the Red Storm with 21 points, and Justin Brownlee (16 points) in the win. It was Hardy’s third straight games of 20 or more points and the fifth time in the last six games he's done it.

“I’m just being aggressive on my catch,” Hardy said during a video interview by St. John's SID Mark Fratto. “My teammates look for me to lead them out there on the court…I was just in a groove today.”

It doesn’t get any easier for St. John’s, which hosts No.9 Georgetown at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. The Red Storm then travels to South Bend on Saturday to take on 15th-ranked Notre Dame.

Hardy, a JFK high school (Bronx) graduate, is looking forward to facing Georgetown at the Garden. “It’s a great honor. It’s the brightest lights in the world,” Hardy said. “We’re playing a great team in Georgetown.”

Hardy’s history playing at the Garden pre-dates his college days. Hardy was a member of the 2005 JFK team that beat Lincoln for the PSAL championship.

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