St. John’s rallies from 16 down, tops Georgia Tech 76-73

MIAMI (AP) — Saturday marked the 28th anniversary of one of St. John’s coach Chris Mullin’s greatest NBA games: He didn’t miss a single shot in a game at Miami, going a perfect 11 for 11 from the field and 5 for 5 from the foul line to help Golden State win.

Clearly, something about December 1, Mullin and Miami just works.

Shamorie Ponds scored 37 points, including a personal 9-0 run in the second half, and St. John’s rallied from a 16-point deficit to beat Georgia Tech 76-73 on Saturday in the HoopHall Miami Invitational.

Mullin still remembers his perfect night in Miami. He won’t forget Ponds’ effort on the Heat floor anytime soon, either.

“He had a better game than me,” Mullin said.

High praise, and it was deserved as the Red Storm (7-0) stayed unbeaten — extending their best start since 1994-95. Ponds gave St. John’s a needed lift by connecting on a desperation heave from midcourt at the halftime buzzer, then carried the Red Storm in the second half.

Over the final 13:37, he nearly outscored Georgia Tech himself — it was Yellow Jackets 22, Ponds 21 over that closing stretch.

“Shamorie Ponds is an NBA guy, he hit some NBA-type shots,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “He’s really, really good.”

Justin Simon and LJ Figueroa each scored 13 for the Red Storm.

Jose Alvarado scored 17 for Georgia Tech (4-3), while James Banks III and Brandon Alston each scored 14 for the Yellow Jackets. Moses Wright scored 12 for Georgia Tech, which has dropped two straight.

In Pastner’s two-plus seasons, the Yellow Jackets had never lost a game where they led by more than 13 — until now. Ponds made two free throws with 3.2 seconds left, and Alvarado tried a 70-footer when he could have easily taken another dribble or two before letting fly with the tying attempt.

“He’ll learn from it,” Pastner said.

St. John’s made its first four shots — then made four of its next 25, missing 12 straight over a stretch that lasted just over seven minutes.

Georgia Tech took full advantage.

The Yellow Jackets went on a 16-0 run late in the half, turning a 24-17 deficit into a 33-24 lead. Banks had seven points in that run, and Georgia Tech’s lead was 38-29 at the half — with St. John’s ending its field-goal drought at the buzzer, when Ponds swished one from midcourt.

“End of the half, they punched us in the mouth,” Ponds said. “So we had to respond.”

Georgia Tech’s lead reached 16 points twice in the second half, the second of those coming on a layup by Wright with 15:06 left for a 51-35 edge.

And then the pendulum started swinging back to St. John’s, with Ponds leading the charge.

“We talk about dealing with adversity,” Mullin said. “When things go your way, it’s easy to go with the flow. When things get a little funky, that’s when it’s really important to rely on each other.”

BIG PICTURE

St. John’s: The Red Storm took care of the ball, and it paid off. St. John’s had only five turnovers, compared with 16 by Georgia Tech. And the Red Storm held Georgia Tech to a 4-for-21 effort from 3-point range.

Georgia Tech: This was one of three trips the Yellow Jackets will make to the state of Florida this season. Georgia Tech goes to both Florida State (Feb. 2) and Miami (Feb. 23) for Atlantic Coast Conference games.

SERIES NOTE

This was the 10th meeting between the schools, and the ninth on a neutral floor. St. John’s has never played a true “home” game against Georgia Tech, although five of the neutral-site games have been at either Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center. Georgia Tech hosted St. John’s in 2003.

UP NEXT

St. John’s: Hosts Mount St. Mary’s on Wednesday.

Georgia Tech: Hosts Florida A&M on Dec. 9.