The Michigan Wolverines spoiled the return of Rick Pitino to Madison Square Garden as they defeated the St. John’s Red Storm 89-73 in the opening game of the Gavitt Tipoff Games on Monday night.
The Wolverines (3-0) were led by their backcourt duo of Dug McDaniel and Nimari Burnett, who combined for 47 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds. McDaniel, a freshman point guard, had a career-high 26 points, seven assists and six rebounds, while Burnett, a sophomore transfer from Alabama, scored 21 points, all in the first half, on 8-of-8 shooting, including four 3-pointers.
Michigan interim coach Phil Martelli, who filled in again for Juwan Howard, who is recovering from heart surgery, praised the performance of his guards.
“They were brilliant at the way they ran their offense,” Martelli said. “They played intelligent basketball and we did not.”
Pitino’s homecoming spoiled by Michigan’s defense
Rick Pitino, the Hall of Fame coach who won NCAA championships at Kentucky and Louisville, made his first appearance at Madison Square Garden as the head coach of St. John’s (1-1). Pitino, who coached the New York Knicks from 1987-89, took over the Red Storm this year after spending the past three seasons at Iona.
However, Pitino’s homecoming was not a happy one, as his team struggled to score against Michigan’s defense. The Red Storm shot 38.5% from the field and 23.8% from 3-point range, and committed 15 turnovers. Michigan also outrebounded St. John’s 42-31 and outscored them 40-28 in the paint.
Pitino gave credit to Michigan for their defensive effort and said his team needs to improve on both ends of the floor.
“They deserve all the credit. They were brilliant at the way they ran their offense,” Pitino said. “Their backcourt dominated our backcourt, but they played intelligent basketball and we did not.”
Michigan pulls away in the second half
The game was close in the first half, as St. John’s trailed by only four points, 29-25, with 7:36 left. However, Michigan went on a 19-7 run to end the half, capped by a 3-pointer by Burnett at the buzzer, to take a 48-38 lead into the break.
The Wolverines continued to extend their lead in the second half, as they opened with a 12-5 spurt to make it 60-43 with 15:49 left. St. John’s never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way, as Michigan cruised to the win.
Michigan had four players in double figures, as Terrance Williams II added 12 points and Will Tschetter scored 10 off the bench. Olivier Nkamhoua, a transfer from Tennessee, had nine points, seven rebounds and four assists.
St. John’s was led by Joel Soriano, a transfer from Fordham, who had 15 points and nine rebounds. Jordan Dingle and Daniss Jenkins each added 10 points for the Red Storm.
What’s next for both teams
Michigan will face Seton Hall on Wednesday in another Gavitt Tipoff Games matchup, while St. John’s will host Fairleigh Dickinson on Thursday.
The Gavitt Tipoff Games are an annual series of games between Big Ten and Big East teams, named in honor of Dave Gavitt, the founder of the Big East and a former NCAA executive.