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December 9, 2009

Johnnies Take Georgia in Garden

NEW YORK (Jim O'Connell, AP) - Red Storm swingman D.J. Kennedy really likes the second half.

One game after netting all of the 18 points in the second period against then-No. 6/5 Duke, the dynamic junior scored nine of his 11 total points in the second stanza, helping the Red Storm shoot 60.9 percent in the latter part of the game and put away the Georgia Bulldogs, 66-56, in a nationally televised contest that marked STJ's 2009-10 debut at Madison Square Garden.

St. John's began the game without three starters because they were three minutes late for the bus. The Red Storm opened the second half with a shooting exhibition they can only hope lasts the rest of the season.

Dwight Hardy scored 12 points and St. John's used a balanced offense to beat Georgia 66-56 on Wednesday night in the SEC/Big East Invitational at Madison Square Garden.

"We have a rule that everybody has to be on time," St. John's coach Norm Roberts said of why Kennedy, Paris Horne and Sean Evans weren't in the starting lineup. "They were three minutes late, and it is not a big deal, but everyone has to be accountable. I thought those three guys did a great job of really turning a negative situation into a positive."

The Red Storm (7-1) pulled away for a 28-25 halftime lead by making eight of their first 10 shots from the field in the second half. Hardy's 3-pointer, the Red Storm's third in the 20-11 run, made it 48-36 with 13:28 to play.

"We played with much more energy in the second half," Roberts said. "We had much better defense, we turned them over and we finished plays better."

Kennedy had 11 points, a game-high tying seven boards, five assists and four steals and Justin Brownlee added 10 points for St. John's, which shot 49 percent from the field (25-of-51), including 14-of-23 (.609) in the second half and 7-for-14 (.500) for the game from beyond the arc.

Dele Coker had six points, five rebounds and five blocks in his first start of the year for the Red Storm, whose only loss this season was at Duke. All 10 players who saw action for St. John's scored and its backups outscored the Georgia reserves 31-9.

"I think it is big from our team," Evans said of the depth. "A lot of people stepped up today, and everybody who started and came off the bench played well.''

Trey Thompkins had 19 points for the Bulldogs (4-4), who had won three of their last four.

Go to RedStormReport.com for all the late breaking NYC basketball news and updates.

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