St. John’s Basketball: Johnnies shocked by 341st ranked Delaware State

St. John’s basketball has lost five straight games after a shocking defeat to Delaware State at home.

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There are a lot of high major teams that squander away buy games during the non-conference portion of the schedule. Samford beat Saint Louis, Winthrop beat Illinois, UConn lost to Wagner and Northeastern already and even Indiana, who beat Kansas, was dropped by Fort Wayne.

It happens more often than you think. However, one of Tuesday night’s massive upsets stood out over the rest because of the circumstances of the situation.

The Delaware State Hornets came into their match-up against St. John’s at Carnesecca Arena on Tuesday night as the 341st team in the latest KenPom rankings. They were 1-5 on the season, with their lone win coming at the hands of Division III school Summit, and hadn’t won a non-conference game against a Division I opponent since December of 2014.

Yes, on Tuesday night, no statistic, ranking or streak mattered to the Hornets, as they knocked off the Johnnies (2-5), 79-72.

The Hornets were carried by Devin Morgan, who scored 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting, and DeVaughn Mallory, who scored 16 points and grabbed six rebounds. Junior forward Kavon Waller was the last Hornet to score in double-figures, as he put up 15 points and grabbed six boards.

What was most impressive about Delaware State’s performance was their poise and offensive ability. They only turned the ball over 13 times (one time less than St. John’s) and shot an outstanding 58 percent from the field overall and 53 percent from beyond the arc. Add in 19 assists on 32 field goals, and the Hornets were rolling in the second half.

But while Delaware State’s had a solid performance, the far bigger story is St. John’s lack of energy, listless defense and poor decision making on the offensive end of the floor.

“We just have to put more energy in and be more hungry,” point guard Federico Mussini said following the game.

Mussini also admitted that part of their problem on Tuesday night was the fact that the Johnnies took the Hornets lightly.

And it showed.

St. John’s gave up multiple open layups, their pick-and-roll defense was non-existent and they didn’t close out possessions with rebounds. Head coach Chris Mullin wasn’t pleased with any phase of the game, but he was particularly disappointed about the defense.

“Our defense was horrible, one-and-one and as a team,” Mullin said postgame. “I thought we lost trust in each other a bit in shrinking the floor and not helping the helper, things we are usually pretty good at.”

Meanwhile on offense, St. John’s launched 37 three pointers…37! Sure, Delaware State played mostly zone, but if those shots don’t fall, it creates easy opportunities for the opposing team to score on the other end.

No matter how young St. John’s is and what their status of their rebuilding process is, this is an inexcusable loss that has easily become the worst defeat of the Chris Mullin era (remember, they had 24 losses last season). That is especially true considering how much talent and potential they currently possess in the program.

This wasn’t any old buy game loss. This was an ugly one that will likely haunt the Johnnies for a long time.

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