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St. John's earns No. 24 ranking in AP Top 25

St. John's Mustapha Heron celebrates his dunk against

St. John's Mustapha Heron celebrates his dunk against Marquette during a game at Carnesecca Arena in Queens on Tuesday. Credit: Steven Ryan

For the first time in four years, St. John’s is ranked in the Top 25.

The Red Storm (14-1, 2-1) are ranked 24th in the latest Associated Press poll released Monday afternoon. It’s the first time St. John’s has been ranked since Jan. 5, 2015, when it also was 24th. That season, the Red Storm was ranked for five consecutive weeks in December and January, reaching as high as 15th on Dec. 29, 2014, before losses to Seton Hall, Butler and Villanova sent them down, and eventually out of, the rankings.

The 14-1 start is the Red Storm’s best since 1985-86, when they also started 14-1 and finished 31-5. St. John’s will visit defending national champion Villanova (11-4, 2-0 Big East) on Tuesday night.

This year’s rankings debut comes two days after the Red Storm wrapped up their most impressive week of the season. They dominated 16th-ranked Marquette, 89-69, on New Year’s Day at Carnesecca Arena and followed that with a 97-94 overtime win over host Georgetown on Saturday.

St. John’s scored on its first four possessions of overtime to take an eight-point lead over the Hoyas and defended a pair of potential tying three-pointers in the final 23 seconds to beat Georgetown in Washington for the first time since Jan. 18, 2003.

The victory snapped a 13-game road losing streak against the Hoyas and was seen by many as a season-defining win, one that proved St. John’s belonged in the Top 25.

St. John’s won its first 12 games of the season before falling to Seton Hall in controversial fashion on Dec. 30 in New Jersey. Seton Hall’s Shavar Reynolds Jr. nailed a three-pointer with four-tenths of a second remaining to ruin the Red Storm’s perfect season. The play came after a call by officials gave Seton Hall the ball with 3.1 seconds to play. Replays indicated the call was incorrect.

St. John’s failed to let the loss linger and now finds itself ranked. The top four of this week’s AP rankings remains unchanged: No. 1 Duke (12-1), No. 2 Michigan (15-0), No. 3 Tennessee (12-1) and No. 4 Virginia (13-0). Gonzaga (14-2) took over the fifth spot, replacing Kansas (12-2), which fell to seventh.

Ponds honored. St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds was named Big East player of the week, the conference announced Monday. Ponds, who also won the award on Nov. 26, averaged 31.5 points, 5.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals against Marquette and Georgetown. He shot 52.8 percent from the floor and 58.8 percent from three-point range in those games.

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