It was the Red Storm’s fourth straight home victory.
After allowing the Highlanders to shoot 44.8 percent (13-of-29) from the floor and 60.0 percent (6-of-10) from long range in the first half to take a 35-23 lead into the break, the Red Storm allowed just 14 points on 6-of-30 shooting (20.0 percent the rest of the game.
“This was really a tale of two halves,” said head coach Steve Lavin.
Harrison reached the 20-point plateau for the seventh time in the first eight games to lead St. John’s (6-2), while freshman JaKarr Sampson posted his first-career double-double with 15 points and 17 rebounds, the most boards by a Red Storm player since Lamont Hamilton grabbed 17 against Niagara on Nov. 26, 2005.
The Thursday prior, St. John’s put in a solid performance, beating South Carolina 89-65 as part of the SEC/Big East challenge in front of a crowd of 4,902 at Carnesecca Arena.
The Red Storm were outrebounded 43 to 31, but shot 57 percent from the field and had four players score in double digits.
Harrison, who is playing with an intensity and leadership that is going to be crucial to the team’s success this year, led the team with 26 points.
Over the last three games he has shot 17-of-35 from behind the three-point line.
Against the Gamecocks, Amir Garret added 15 points and brought down 11 rebounds, while Sampson, the big East Rookie of the Week, was in double figures for his fifth straight game with 11 point.
Phil Greene IV was the fourth player scoring in double digits for St. John’s, dropping 13 points.
After losing some key players from last year’s squad, the Red Storm are playing better than most people expected.
"We're never going to be a great rebounding team, but I think we can become a better rebounding team than we are,” said Coach Steve Lavin. “And while we address the areas that we need to improve upon and shore those areas up, we also have to keep building on what our strengths are, which is our depth, speed, skill and quickness.”
The Red Storm played solid on the other end of the court as well, holding South Carolina to just 36 percent shooting from the field.
“Our defense has gotten better because that's what we've been stressing in practice,” said Garrett. “I think our man-to-man is pretty good but we're able to play our zone just as well.”
A scary moment in the game occurred when South Carolina junior guard Brenton Williams injured his neck falling after being fouled. His neck was placed in a brace before being taken to a hospital for evaluation.
About an hour after the game, a South Carolina spokesperson said that Williams was released from the hospital and would travel home with the team.
St. John’s is in San Francisco for a Dec. 4th game at War Memorial Gym. Lavin’s father, Cap Lavin, was a standout at USF from 1949-52 under two Naismith Hall of Fame coaches, Pete Newell and Phil Woolpert.