Steve Lavin has gotten St. John's off to a strong Big East start in his first season.
Lavin's first conference home game will be a big one as the Red Storm take on No. 13 Georgetown on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.St. John's (9-3, 2-0 Big East) is off to its best start in conference play since beginning 4-0 in 1999-2000. Lavin guided the Red Storm past West Virginia 81-71 on Wednesday and by Providence 67-65 on Saturday.Dwight Hardy averaged 20.5 points in the victories, and the senior guard is looking forward to the Red Storm's first game against a Top 25 opponent."It's a great honor, the brightest lights in the world," Hardy said. "We're playing a great team in Georgetown, it's going to be a good matchup. They've got some good guards, we've got some good guards."Hardy played the entire game for the first time Saturday, making 8 of 13 shots for 21 points. He's averaging 21.8 points over his last six games after averaging 10.8 over the first six."I'm just being aggressive on my catch," Hardy said. "My team, they look for me to lead them out on the court, hitting open shots, being aggressive attacking the basket. I was just in a groove today, just happy with the win."Hardy scored a team-high 14 points in last season's 66-59 loss at Georgetown (12-2, 1-1) on Dec. 31, 2009. The Red Storm were unable to contain Chris Wright, who had a game-high 21 points.Wright turned in a terrible performance in Georgetown's Big East opener in which he scored three points on 1-of-9 shooting in Wednesday's 69-55 loss at No. 15 Notre Dame. The senior guard bounced back with 17 points in Saturday's 86-75 victory over DePaul."I guess in a way I was being passive," Wright said. "Passed up a couple of shots. Just feeling out the game."Austin Freeman and Jason Clark each scored 21 on Saturday as the Hoyas shot 58.6 percent over the final 20 minutes after a sluggish first half."We were flat," coach John Thompson III said. "It felt like we were in quicksand, particularly in the first half."Georgetown probably has bad memories of its last two meetings with St. John's at the Garden. The Hoyas lost twice in an eight-day span in March two seasons ago, and those defeats were a major reason why they missed the NCAA tournament.Freeman, the Hoyas' leading scorer at 19.2 points per game, is averaging 10.0 points in four games against St. John's. He's totaled eight points on 3-of-14 shooting in two matchups at MSG.Freeman leads the Big East in field-goal percentage (57.5) and 3-point shooting (48.5 percent). Red Storm forward Justin Brownlee is tied for second in the league at 57.1 percent from the field.Georgetown is shooting Big East-highs of 52.1 percent overall and 40.3 percent on 3s. St. John's is the worst team in the conference at defending the 3, allowing opponents to shoot 37.6 percent.