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From the Cheap Seats: 4 Thoughts on St. John’s (Exhibition)

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Rutgers wins 80-78 on a Issa Thiam tip in with 2 seconds left

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Ohio State vs Rutgers Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In a thrilling exhibition battle, the Scarlet Knights defeated St. John’s after rallying from a 13 point deficit late in the second half. Issa Thiam tipped in a Corey Sanders miss and the Scarlet Knights wished this one counted toward the actual record.

Steve Pikiell is such a good coach: Pikiell outcoached Chris Mullin five ways ‘til Sunday. Every time a St. John’s guard drove to the rim, he was met by at least two defenders forcing the Red Storm players to kick it out. He pressed when he had to which disrupted the Red Storm offense. When St. John’s went on their run and Geo Baker pressing to get involved, Pikiell call a key timeout and drew up a play for Baker to get a long lay-up. Baker is going to be a good one, by the way.

St. John’s Couldn’t Guard Deshawn Freeman: Freeman ended the game with 28 points and 12 rebounds. The Red Storm had no defensive answer for him, and each time he touched the ball it either ended up in a basket or they fouled him. And Freeman made them pay going 10-16 from the line. He probably should have made at least 3 more. But Freeman was the offensive star in this game, that’s for sure.

Shamorie Ponds is Legit: Despite all different looks Pikiell threw at him, Ponds was hard to guard. He finished with 25 points, got the rim at will and looked like he was going to be the reason the (exhibition) dagger would go through the hearts of Rutgers fans. Big East fans are going to be seeing Ponds in their sleep.

St. John’s Does Not Defend: Rutgers is not a great offensive team, but managed to score 80 points. They still can’t shoot and missed a ton of open threes. But even thought St. John’s tried to take away the inside, but Rutgers was able to have Freeman post-up or Corey drive to the rim. Mike Williams, before he injured his knee, was lighting up the Johnnies too. They are extremely talented, but if they want to go to the NCAAs this year, they have to defend.

More on this game from some of our other contributors to come.