CINCINNATI (AP) — Naji Marshall scored 20 points, freshman KyKy Tandy made four 3s in his best performance, and Xavier pulled away in the second half to a 75-67 victory over St. John's on Sunday.
The Musketeers (12-3, 1-1 Big East) broke open a close game by finally getting some long-range shots. Tandy hit three in a row from beyond the arc and finished with a career-high 12 points.
Tyrique Jones had his eighth double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
St. John's (11-4, 0-2) struggled to make shots despite getting its leading scorer back. Senior guard Mustapha Heron missed the last three games with a sprained right ankle. Heron had 11 points in 22 minutes.
The Red Storm shot only 35% from the field and went 1 of 16 from beyond the arc. LJ Figueroa led with 17 points.
St. John's got the better of it early with its pressure defense, which forced four turnovers during an 11-0 run.
Marshall hit a pair of 3s that got Xavier going, and Jones had a pair of baskets that put the Musketeers ahead 19-18. There were six lead changes in the first half, which ended with the Musketeers leading 34-32 despite 13 turnovers.
Both teams struggled with poor shooting in the first half. The Red Storm missed all nine shots from beyond the arc, while Xavier went only 4 of 11 on free throws.
Tandy broke it open with three consecutive 3s as Xavier pulled ahead 59-49 midway through the second half and was in control the rest of the way. Tandy went 4 of 6 from beyond the arc overall.
St. John's: The Red Storm went 1-2 during a stretch of three straight games against ranked teams. They beat No. 16 Arizona 70-67 at San Francisco on Dec. 21 and lost at home to No. 11 Butler 60-58 on Tuesday, overcoming a 23-point deficit in the second half to take a late lead before letting it slip away.
Xavier: The Musketeers needed a win in the first of three straight Big East home games, which presents an opportunity to get an early advantage in the league. Xavier has won 13 in a row at the Cintas Center since last season.
St. John's plays at Georgetown on Wednesday.
Xavier hosts Seton Hall on Wednesday.
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