Nebraska men's basketball fans hoping to see new and improved team on national television Thursday night instead got an outcome that has become all too familiar.
St. John's was tougher, smarter and flat out better at Carnesecca Arena, dominating the Huskers 79-56 in New York City.
Nebraska led 5-2 in the game's early moments, and that was the extent of the Huskers' highlights. By games' end, St. John's (3-0) was dipping into its bag of breakaway dunks to throw on the highligh reel.
"We got what we deserved," Nebraska coach Tim Miles said on his postgame radio show. "They were just a more aggressive team. And the aggressor wins."
St. John's out-rebounded a taller Nebraska squad 50-39, including 16-11 on the offensive glass, which helped lead to a 44-16 advantage in points in the paint.
The Red Storm, a team that thrives on creating chaos, forced 16 Nebraska turnovers and never let the Huskers get comfortable offensively. Nebraska shot 28 percent from the field — 8 of 27 in the first half, 8 of 30 in the second half — and went 6 of 26 at the three-point line.
And the Huskers, who came into the game among the nation's leaders in blocked shots, saw 10 shots of their own get rejected while finishing with five blocks.
"Our guards didn't do a good job on the ball. And they're as fast of guards as you're going to see in the country. Now, that's what opens up your offensive rebounding and all those other things," Miles said. "We just couldn't get them under control in any way, shape or form."
Shamorie Ponds led St. John's with 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists. His backcourt mate, Marcus LoVett, finished with 14 points points and was inside the head of more than one Nebraska player throughout.
Early in the second half, when Nebraska was still within striking distance, LoVett got into a trash-talking match with Nebraska's James Palmer after Palmer hit a tough layup, leading to a technical foul on the Nebraska guard.
A few minutes later, LoVett picked up Nebraska's Glynn Watson near midcourt, and a few seconds later baited the Huskers junior into shoving off to get open.
The offensive foul with 12:54 left was Watson's fourth, and the rout was on. Watson was held to five points in 25 foul-plagued minutes.
"Sometimes you don't like the taste of your own blood. But when you're out in elements like this, you've got to be just tough as nails," Miles said. "We didn't rise to the occasion tonight, and that's disappointing."
Palmer led Nebraska (2-1) with 13 points, five rebounds and three assists. He was the only Husker to reach double figures.
Evan Taylor had nine points and five boards, and Isaiah Roby finished with eight points and six rebounds.
Senior guard Anton Gill, in his first action of the season as he recovers from knee and hip injuries, had seven points.
Gill's lone made basket of the game told the story. His three-pointer plus a foul with five seconds left in the half was Nebraska's only basket in the final 6:09 of the opening 20 minutes. After he hit the free throw, LoVett went the length of the court for a layup to beat the first half buzzer and quell any Nebraska momentum.