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St. John’s Beats Duke to Cap Stretch Against Ranked Teams

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Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- St. John’s University beat defending men’s college basketball champion Duke University 93-78 to cap an eight-game stretch against ranked opponents.

Dwight Hardy scored 26 points to lead St. John’s, which raced to a 46-25 halftime lead yesterday at Madison Square Garden in New York. It’s the Red Storm’s first win in eight years against the third-ranked Blue Devils, who fell to 19-2 and were denied their best start in school history.

St. John’s (12-8) had lost five of its previous seven games against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top-25 poll and was coming off consecutive losses to Big East Conference rivals Louisville, Cincinnati and Georgetown.

“You have to make adjustments and really the concern was that our players realized that this conference is really tough,” St. John’s coach Steve Lavin said at a news conference. “You can lose eight-of-nine games or five-of-six games in this league and not necessarily be playing really bad basketball.”

Justin Brownlee added 20 points and nine rebounds for the Red Storm, which had lost seven straight games against Duke. St. John’s last win over Duke came on March 2, 2003 at Madison Square Garden.

Nolan Smith scored 32 points to lead the Blue Devils, who missed 20 of their first 21 three-point shots yesterday.

Duke’s only other defeat this season came at Florida State on Jan. 12. The Blue Devils lead the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 6-1 record, while St. John’s is 11th in the 16-team Big East with a 4-5 mark in conference play.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.