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Chris Mullin and Red Storm Achieve Greatest Win of the Season

Sunday, St. John’s (7-3) hosted their long-time rival, the Syracuse men’s basketball team (7-3), at Madison Square Garden for one of the biggest games of the season. The Johnnies came up on top, defeating the Orange, 84-72, winning their third straight game in front of more than 13,000 fans and improved to 6-0 at home this season.

Federico Mussini led five of St. John’s double-figure scorers. He had 17 points, including five 3-pointers. St. John’s had 12 3-pointers, had a 50.0 shooting percentage from long range and had 22 assists. The Red Storm never allowed its lead to get below seven. Their defense limited the Orange to 5-of-26 (19.2 percent) beyond the arc. Syracuse shot 1-for-12 from 3-point territory and 57.1 percent (12-for-21) at the line in the second half. Yankuba Sima collected eight rebounds and finished with nine points, two assists and increased the second highest block total in the nation to 35 with a game-high three rejections.

Durand Johnson posted double-figures for the second time and guard finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Sophomore forward Amar Alibegovic was the only Red Storm player who appeared in last year’s victory that ruined the Orange’s 55-game non-conference win streak at the Carrier Dome. Alibegovic scored 15 points, shot 5-of-6 from the field with three 3-pointers and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, all within 27 minutes off the bench. Within 10 minutes left in the first half, he also had a two-handed put back slam. After a Kassoum Yakwe layup, St. John’s was leading 22-15 with 7:43 left for the first half.

Syracuse countered with a 7-0 run. Five of those points were from senior guard Michael Gbinije, who finished with a game-high 21 and tied the game at 22. With 5:09 left in the first half, Tyler Lydon shot a 3-pointer, giving the Orange what would be its last lead of the game, 25-24. Mussini made his first of three 3-pointers over the final 4:41 on the ensuing possession to lead St. John’s into the break with a 40-31 advantage.

Yakwe was on fire in the second half scoring 11 of his 15 points, helping the Red Storm lead by 13. He shot 5-for-6 at the free-throw line, had three rebounds, and two blocks within 23 minutes. Graduate student Ron Mvouika was just as impressive, putting up 10 points, seven rebounds and a game-high five assists. He made his first four shots of the game along with his 3-pointer 40 seconds into the second half.

St. John’s had a 79-66 advantage with only 4:14 remaining after putting up five free throws. Mussini also made his fifth 3-pointer. Six quick points by Syracuse cut the lead to only seven, but the Red Storm fired back with five more free throws in the final minute to have a 12-point win over Syracuse for the second-straight year. It was the first time since the 1992-93 season that St. John’s notched consecutive victories over Syracuse.

St. John’s is back in action Friday hosting Incarnate Word at Carnesecca Arena. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. with the national telecast airing on FS1

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