On paper it looked like it should be a blowout.
St. John's came into the game winless in nine Big East Games. Xavier battled its way into the number 6 team in the AP poll and number 5 in the USA Today coaches poll.
Mullin should know. He led the Redmen to the final four in 1984-85. Mullin had a distinguished 10-year NBA career, mostly with the Golden State Warriors.
"I couldn't be more proud of my team," Mullin said "That was winning basketball we played tonight. Xavier is a great team, one of the best in the country. They were bigger than we were so they outrebounded us and the free throws are self explanatory>'
Xavier (20-2, 8-2 Big East) pulled in 49 rebounds to St. John's (7-16, 0-10 Big East) 34. Xavier didn't shoot well from the foul line 27-40 but shot a lot from the charity stripe. St. John's had just 21 attempts and made 13 of them, a 14 point deficit.
Jalen Reynolds was just 1-of-8 from the line, costing him a chance to join Myles Davis (16), Trevon Bluiett (15), J.P. Macura (12), James Farr (11) and Edmond Sumner (10) as a double figures scorer.
Xavier is the first team in the NCAA to reach the 20 win plateau and coach Chris Mack pointed it out to fans who may have been disappointed in the margin of victory and the second highest point total allowed by the Musketeers on the season.
"It wasn't what outsiders and fans expected," Mack said.. "Tip you hat to St. John's. They played hard. There were plays we could have made to break the game open that we didn't make and plays they made to keep them in the game. St. John's plays downhill. There are a lot of possessions. If you're judging by point totals, it's bad. But it wasn't as bad as it looks."
St. John's put four players in double figures. Felix Balamou led the Red Storm with 20. Durand Johnson added 18. Kassoum Yakwe had 14 and Ron Mvouika scored 10. Yakwe added seven rebounds.
Bluiett led the Musketeers with 13. Macura had five offensive rebounds to allow Xavier to maintain control.