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St. John's averts letdown by routing FDU

St John's Sir'Dominic Pointer shoots during a non-conference

St John's Sir'Dominic Pointer shoots during a non-conference NCAA men's basketball game on Dec. 10, 2014 at Carnesecca Arena in Queens. Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Four days after ending a nine-game losing streak against Syracuse before a Carrier Dome crowd of 24,884 -- the largest in college basketball this season -- and two days after cracking the AP Top 25 for the first time since March of 2011, St. John's played before a much smaller gathering of 5,428 Wednesday night at Carnesecca Arena.

Letdown?

Trap game?

How about none of the above?

The 24th-ranked Red Storm used a stiff defense and a spread-the-wealth offense to defeat Fairleigh Dickenson University, 74-52, to improve to 7-1. D'Angelo Harrison had the hot hand in the second half, scoring 17 of his 26 points. He had plenty of help. Phil Greene IV scored 12 of his 16 points in a tone-setting first half in which the Red Storm grabbed a 39-25 lead. Sir'Dominic Pointer scored 12, including three dunks while shooting 6-for-6. Chris Obekpa contributed a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Plus six blocks.

"After that Syracuse victory in the Dome, you're curious about how your team will respond," St. John's coach Steve Lavin said. "As a coach, you're never satisfied. You're wired to see all the flaws that will cost us in conference play or if we make a postseason run. It's encouraging that we didn't play well yet we won by 22."

Lavin was being a bit harsh, as only a coach can. Ever the perfectionist, he did acknowledge that, "We played well in stretches but got a little disjointed on offense. The good things were the play of our backcourt, Harrison and Greene, Obekpa's double-double and those field goal percentages."

St. John's shot 56.9 percent from the field (29-for-51) while holding the Knights (3-5) to just 37.3 percent. "We're not satisfied," Obekpa said, parroting his coach. "We want teams to shoot under 30 percent."

The Red Storm finished strong. They led 55-45 with 7:47 left, but closed out the game on a 19-7 run, fueled by Harrison's prolific second half in which he hit four of seven field goals and all eight of his free throws. He expended so much energy he walked barefoot into the postgame interview room and yelled, "My feet hurt."

It didn't appear anything was bothering Harrison or Greene on the court. Greene made 7 of 15 shots and added four assists. 'Tickling the twine. Torching the net. Phil is seeing a big basket right now," Lavin said. "He feels good about every shot he releases."

Of the Top 25 ranking, the gregarious Harrison said, "It's good that people are noticing us, but we're not done yet."

But beware: There are more traps ahead.

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