It's games like this that make you think St. John's really is back.
At first, it was ugly. St. John's entered halftime shooting only 24 percent, trailing by 15 points and looking lifeless.
And then, whammo.
From the start of the second half, St. John's looked every bit like a team deserving of the No. 20 ranking in the AP poll.
Loose balls were chased down, shots were contested on defense and shots finally were made as the Red Storm used a big second-half comeback to beat Saint Mary's, 53-47, Friday night at Carnesecca Arena.
"Our team is always going to fight," guard D'Angelo Harrison said after his team came back from a 29-13 deficit. "Coach [Steve Lavin] told us that we had to play harder. We weren't playing St. John's basketball. The second half was St. John's basketball."
It was the fifth straight win for St. John's, which is 9-1 for the first time since 2009-10.
Harrison led the Red Storm with 21 points and Sir'Dominic Pointer had 11 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Both played pivotal roles in the second half as St. John's outscored Saint Mary's 35-14.
Pointer gave the Red Storm its first lead since the opening minutes when he hit two free throws with eight minutes left to make it 43-41. St. John's never trailed after that.
Saint Mary's had a chance late when 6-10, 270-pound Brad Waldow (26 points), who had dominated in the first half, drove into the lane with 20 seconds left and St. John's leading 50-47. But Waldow was double-teamed, took a bad shot and missed. Phil Greene IV secured the rebound, was fouled and made two free throws with 11 seconds left to seal it.
It was a horrible first half for the Red Storm. St. John's made only 6 of 25 shots and trailed 33-18 at halftime. Waldow dominated in the paint and scored 19 points.
"It was a dramatic tale of two halves," Lavin said. "And that was a good thing for us."
Waldow, who was held to seven points in the second half, said the biggest difference was that Pointer helped out on him defensively. The Red Storm limited the Gaels (6-3) to 6-for-23 shooting in the second half, including 0-for-6 on three-pointers.
"We came out slow today," Harrison said, "but we are going to carry the second-half momentum into the next game."