St. John’s spent November doing home work or close-to-home work, playing six times at Carnesecca Arena and twice at Barclays Center. And this opening stretch basically went just fine for the Red Storm in their comfortable city surroundings.
They will finally head out on the cold road and face a ranked team for the first time Sunday when they play at No. 23 Iowa State. And they will enter that big test with a perfect month behind them — eight games, eight wins.
Their latest non-conference game came Tuesday night, and it was not a test. They predictably beat up on a young, overmatched LIU team, 95-68, at Carnesecca.
“I think we’re playing pretty good basketball,” coach Mike Anderson said, looking back and then looking ahead. “You go on the road and you’re going to play a team that’s a really good defensive team. Like all teams, they play well at home . . . When adversity takes place, I want to see how we respond.”
His team showed off its varied talents against LIU. Andre Curbelo delivered 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Joel Soriano turned in his Division I-leading seventh double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. David Jones had 14 points and four steals. Rafael Pinzon, back after missing three games due to an ankle injury, scored 14 points.
And Posh Alexander, back after missing a game because of a concussion, contributed 12 points and eight assists. The junior guard even went 2-for-4 on threes after arriving at 0-for-the-season, having missed all eight tries.
“It was great to see some of them go down today,” Alexander said. “That’s what I’ve been waiting for.”
The Sharks, who were paced by Jacob Johnson’s 17 points, are off to a 1-5 start under their first-year head coach, former Knicks point guard and 17-year NBA vet Rod Strickland.
“They didn’t just lay down,” Anderson said. “But we did what we were supposed to do.”
It was 8-6 St. John’s. Then Curbelo, a Long Island Lutheran alum, fed Alexander, who drained a three. An 18-3 run was in motion. Alexander scored seven and Pinzon, another LuHi alum, added five in the burst.
It was 34-20 when St. John’s closed with the half with another burst.
When Curbelo converted a nifty drive in the closing seconds, the Red Storm had scored 10 straight points. So it was 44-20 at the break.
The game was over with a half still to play. The margin inflated to as many as 33. St. John’s shot 60.6%.
“We took advantage of our size,” Anderson said.
On to Iowa State.
“You’re out of the friendly confines of Carnesecca Arena or in this city here,” Anderson said. “So we’ll find out more about our team.”