Friday , Nov , 17 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Seeking redemption, Texas battles St. John’s

New York, NY (Sports Network) – The consolation game of the 2K Sports
College Hoops Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer pits the St. John’s Red
Storm against the 19th-ranked Texas Longhorns. St. John’s was completely
dominated yesterday in a 92-60 semifinal round loss to Maryland. The wide
margin of defeat was a bit surprising, especially considering that the Red
Storm had won its first two games of the season in blowout fashion. Because
St. John’s plays many of its home games at Madison Square Garden, the club
should have plenty of fan support tonight.

As for Texas, it dropped a heart-breaking 63-61 decision to Michigan State
last night in the semifinal round. The Longhorns cruised to victory in their
first two games of the season, but Michigan State marked a significant leap
in competition over Alcorn State and Chicago State. Texas set a program
record with 30 victories last season en route to a share of the Big 12 title,
but a few key contributors are gone from that squad.

St. John’s won the only previous meeting between these teams.

It is hard to imagine St. John’s playing anywhere near as bad tonight as it did
in last night’s blowout loss to Maryland. The Red Storm trailed by 40 points
early in the second half and was never close in the contest. The club connected
on only 27.9 percent of its field goal attempts and suffered a 52-34 rebounding
disadvantage. If not for a 20-of-24 showing from the free-throw line, the final
score would have been even more lopsided. Anthony Mason managed 12 points in
defeat, and Ricky Torres pitched in 11 points in 13 minutes off the bench.
Through three games, Avery Patterson leads St. John’s in scoring with 15.3 ppg
on the strength of his 13-of-27 shooting from three-point range. The Red Storm
is averaging 68.7 ppg while surrendering 64.7 ppg to its opponents.

Texas only turned the ball over nine times against Michigan State, so the loss
last night can not be blamed on carelessness. Unfortunately, the Longhorns
struggled to hit their shots, connecting on only 34.9 percent of their field
goal attempts, including a 7-of-26 effort from three-point range. The free
throw shooting and rebounding categories were both fairly even in what was a
hotly-contested battle. A.J. Abrams scored a game-high 22 points in defeat for
Texas, while star freshman Kevin Durant chipped in with 21 points, nine
rebounds and four blocks. Unfortunately, the rest of the team combined to score
only 18 points. Abrams is averaging 21.0 ppg through three outings, and Durant
is close behind with 20.7 ppg. Those two players can both score in a multitude
of way, including knocking down the three-point shot.