Ponds, the sophomore out of Brooklyn, had himself a day, going for 25 points on 10-of-21 shooting, along with 7 rebounds and 6 assists to go with just 1 turnover. LoVett tallied 16 points and 5 rebounds, and Simon, who also started in coach Chris Mullin’s three-guard lineup, added 13 points and 7 rebounds. “I like those three guys together, they play well together,” Mullin said. “They had pretty good nights, I thought. In the second half we just kind of let up defensively. They shot 68 percent in the second half.” St. John’s led 35-30 at the break but Rutgers came on strong in the second half, outscoring the Red Storm, 50-43. For most of the game, Ponds had his way with the Rutgers backcourt. He scored back-to-back buckets to put St. John’s up, 78-77, with 1:05 remaining. “The shots that Ponds was hitting, the way they get to the cup, so they can do it all,” Sanders said. “They are going to be a tough matchup for anybody to play against.”
Issa Win!Issa Thiam’s put-back with 2.8 seconds remaining gives us the 80-78 victory over St. John’s. 🛡⚔️ | #KnightAndDay pic.twitter.com/X5MdBZkUIQ — Rutgers Basketball (@RutgersMBB) November 5, 2017
St. John’s — picked sixth in the 10-team Big East — will likely go as far this season as their guards take them. Ponds told me at Big East Media Day that their season would be a “bust” if they failed to make the NCAA Tournament. For the Red Storm, it remains an open question how much production they will get out of their front court. Their starting front court of Bashir Ahmed and Michigan State transfer Marvin Clark Jr. shot a combined 4-of-17 for 15 points with 9 rebounds. In a pattern reminiscent of last year, St. John’s bigs off the bench didn’t do much. Tariq Owens and Kassoum Yakwe combined for just 1 point and 6 rebounds. So it will be up to Ponds and his backcourt mates to lead the way for St. John’s this season, NCAA Tournament or bust.
The Rutgers student section is sleeping in today after the big win over Maryland yesterday pic.twitter.com/1CjHrNcHkz— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) November 5, 2017