Fresh off back-to-back BIG EAST victories, including a win over No. 16/18 Marquette, the St. John’s men’s basketball team has earned a national ranking for the first time in more than four years. The Johnnies broke into the Associated Press Poll at no. 24, garnering a total of 221 points.
St. John’s (14-1, 2-1 BIG EAST), who has who received votes in every edition of the poll so far this season, has earned a national ranking for the first time since Jan. 5, 2015. That season, the Red Storm was ranked for five weeks in December and January, rising as high as no. 15 following an 11-1 start. The Johnnies would go on to record the program’s 28th NCAA Tournament appearance that year.
The Red Storm’s 14-1 start matches the program’s best since 1985-86, when the Johnnies also went 14-1. Those Johnnies would go on to finish the season with a record of 31-5 and claim the program’s second BIG EAST title in four years.
Following a controversial loss, its first of the season, to open BIG EAST action at Seton Hall, the Red Storm rattled off back-to-back quality victories this week to improve to 2-1 in conference action. On New Year’s Day at Carnesecca Arena, the Red Storm thoroughly dominated the No. 16 Golden Eagles, cruising to an 89-69 victory in Queens. Shamorie Ponds scored 26 points, 20 of which came in the first half, to lead five Johnnies in double figures. A few days later at Georgetown, Ponds led the way for the Johnnies once again, pouring in 37 points to push the Red Storm past the Hoyas in overtime. The Red Storm, who trailed by four with just 18 seconds to play in regulation, came out on the winning side of a game at Georgetown for the first time since 2003. Five Johnnies also finished in double figures against the Hoyas, marking the fifth time in the team’s last eight games that the feat has been accomplished.
For his efforts in those two Red Storm victories, Ponds was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week for the second time this season on Monday.
The Red Storm returns to action tomorrow night, traveling to Villanova for a 7 p.m. matchup with the defending national champions on FS1. The Wildcats were the first team out of this week’s poll.
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