NEW YORK (AP) — JaKarr Sampson scored a career-high 23 points and St. John’s pulled away from Butler in the second half for its sixth consecutive victory, 77-52, at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night.
Sampson surpassed his previous career-best of 22 points with a short jumper with 4:40 remaining and then had the rest of the night off. Sampson also grabbed eight rebounds.
Jamal Branch added 10 points for St. John’s (18-9, 8-6) which shot 48 percent while Orlando Sanchez pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds helping the Red Storm to a 55-29 margin on the glass.
Khyle Marshall led Butler (12-14, 2-12) with 16 points but was a non-factor in the second half. Marshall made 6 of 9 shots in the first half on a combined five layups and dunks but missed all four of his attempts after halftime as the Bulldogs made just 31.7 percent, including 2 of 15 on 3-pointers.
After shooting 36.7 percent in the first half, the Red Storm made four of their first six shots in the second half and took the lead for good after Sampson blocked a Marshall shot and Phil Greene IV converted a layup through traffic with about 16 1/2 minutes remaining. Greene’s layup was part of an 11-2 run that gave St. John’s a 46-37 edge with just under 14 minutes remaining.
Butler was within 46-41 with about 13 minutes left on a rare four-point play by Alex Barlow, who was fouled from behind as Harrison tried to block his shot. But Sampson scored 10 points, during a 24-2 St. John’s run, that extended the lead to 70-43 with about 3 1/2 minutes remaining.
Butler led 33-30 at halftime after Marshall scored seven points over the final 3:32 of the first half. He swooped in for a layup with 49 seconds remaining and then had a putback dunk at the buzzer.
Butler’s lead might have been wider but Marshall was not as effective at the foul line as he missed his final five attempts and 6 of 10 in the opening half.
St. John’s took a 20-15 lead on a reserve layup by Sampson but Butler scored the next eight points as the Red Storm missed five straight shots and committed two turnovers.
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