Even Ohio State coach Jim O'Brien thought St. John's had this one locked up.
With his 13th-ranked Buckeyes trailing No. 19 St. John's by 10 points with 2:48 to play, O'Brien was thinking just what the rest of the crowd of 15,164 at Madison Square Garden was.
"Privately, I didn't think we could do it," he said. "I thought it was one of those games where we just couldn't get anything done."
The Buckeyes turned up the defense, got some offense from a struggling Michael Redd and blocked two shots over the final four seconds as they scored the game's final 11 points for a 65-64 victory over St. John's on Saturday.
"This was absolutely an incredible win for us," O'Brien said. "For 38 minutes we had no right winning the game and for the last two we had every right. This was not one of our better performances but the kids refused to fold up and go away."
The Buckeyes (13-3) trailed, 64-54, with 2:48 left when Bootsy Thornton hit a three-pointer for St. John's (12-4).
Ohio State then forced turnovers on the Red Storm's next three possessions and the defense only intensified over the final seconds as St. John's last two shots were blocked -- a move down low by Anthony Glover with four seconds left by Ken Johnson and a three-point attempt by Erick Barkley at the buzzer by Scoonie Penn.
"What happened was we allowed Ohio State to hang around and be in a position for players like Redd and Penn to do what they do best," St. John's coach Mike Jarvis said. "We paid the price for not taking care of the ball when we had to."
Redd, who came into the game averaging 15.1 points per game, struggled offensively as St. John's seemed to take control of the rematch of last season's NCAA Tournament regional final that was won, 77-74, by the Buckeyes.
Redd finally got untracked in the final minutes and his three-pointer with 1:15 left brought Ohio State within 64-63. St. John's then missed three consecutive shots.
The Buckeyes got the ball back with 34 seconds to play and Penn was fouled with 23 seconds left. He made two free throws for the final margin and set the stage for Ohio State's impressive closing defensive stance.
"I wanted the ball when we were down one," Penn said. "I want to be the man on the spot."
Glover's shot was blocked by Johnson, the nation's leading shot-blocker at five per game who finished with a school-record 11. The ball bounced free and Barkley, who ended last season's meeting with a turnover, had his shot blocked by Penn.
"There was no contact," said Barkley, who finished with 15 points. "I knew it was down to a couple of seconds so I had no choice. I tried to get it up as quick as possible."
Second-ranked Arizona falls
LOS ANGELES -- David Bluthenthal scored 18 of his career-high 26 points in the second half as Southern California (12-5 overall, 5-0 in the Pacific-10 Conference) took an 80-72 win over No. 2 Arizona (16-3, 5-1).
The Wildcats had their seven-game winning streak snapped and surrendered first place in the conference to the Trojans. Screaming fans stormed the court at the Sports Arena at the buzzer.
USC won its seventh straight and ninth in its last 10 despite playing without leading scorer Sam Clancy and sixth-man Jarvis Turner, who are both out for the season. Clancy fractured his right foot and Turner fractured his left ankle in an overtime win against Arizona State on Thursday.
Brian Scalabrine added a career-high 27 points, including four consecutive free throws in the final 32 seconds.
Kentucky bags SEC showdown
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jamaal Magliore had 23 points and 15 rebounds and coach Tubby Smith got his 200th career victory as No. 18 Kentucky beat No. 20 Vanderbilt, 81-73, in overtime in the Southeastern Conference.
Sophomore Desmond Allison added a career-high 23 points for Kentucky (13-5, 4-1), including shooting 6 for 9 on threes. As a team, Kentucky was 12 for 27 from three-point range and Vanderbilt (12-3, 3-2) was only 5 for 27.
"I just broke out of a little shooting slump," said Allison, who had shot just 1 for 10 against Ole Miss on Wednesday. "I had to have a boost of confidence. I got a couple shots to fall down, and it was great. The basket looked real big."
Missouri too much for Kansas
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- As usual, Kansas brought out the best in Missouri.
Clarence Gilbert hit seven three-pointers and scored a career-high 27 points as Missouri (11-6, 4-1) claimed an 81-59 victory over the seventh-ranked Jayhawks (15-3, 4-1) in the Big 12.
Kansas has lost the last four times it has brought a Top 10 team into the Hearnes Center.
"We tried different people, we tried different defense, we tried everything we have," Kansas coach Roy Williams said. "Nothing seemed to work."
Gilbert was 7 for 10 from three-point range and hit his first four of the second half to help Missouri take a 20-point lead. In the last five games, Gilbert, who entered the game tied for the Big 12 scoring lead, is 26 for 46 from three-point range.
Bank is open for Purdue
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Jaraan Cornell's ugliest shot was the one that hurt Indiana most.
The Purdue senior scored 25 points and hit six three-pointers, including one he banked off the glass to give the Boilermakers (13-5, 4-1) the lead in the closing minutes of an 83-77 victory over the No. 11 Hoosiers (14-3, 4-2) in the Big Ten.
After a three-point play by Mike Robinson brought Purdue within 71-70, an offensive foul was called against Indiana's Michael Lewis. Cornell then hit his three-pointer off the glass to put the Boilermakers ahead for good with four minutes to go.
"It wasn't luck," Cornell said. "I just had to adjust my body. I was backpedaling, trying to get open, and I saw Michael Lewis come out. He got a hand on one of my shots earlier, and I had to get more arc in it than normal and it just caught the glass.
"It definitely was one of my better games," said Cornell, whose scoring offset the 27 points by Indiana's A.J. Guyton.
Around the nation
Mark Madsen scored 19 points and No. 3 Stanford (15-1, 4-1), the nation's top defensive team, held California (10-7, 1-4) to 19 percent shooting in the first half of an 81-70 Pac-10 win. Ryan Mendez added 15 points for the Cardinal.
Lataryl Williams' put back with 38 seconds left in overtime helped host Mississippi (13-6, 1-5) score a 79-77 upset over No. 4 Auburn (16-2, 4-1) in the SEC. Ole Miss came into the game on a five-game Southeastern Conference losing streak. Auburn had won 14 straight. Tang Hamilton led the Bulldogs with 15 points.
Khalid El-Amin, held without a field goal in the first half, scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half as No. 8 Connecticut (13-3, 2-2) took a 92-71 win over Georgetown (10-7, 2-4) in the Big East. UConn, rebounding from a home loss to St. John's, stretched its conference-record road winning streak to 13 games. Kevin Braswell scored 26 points for the Hoyas.
Mike Miller scored 25 points as No. 9 Florida (14-3, 3-2) won for just the second win in Tuscaloosa since 1970, taking a 77-73 win at Alabama (9-8, 2-3) in the SEC.
Charlie Bell scored 14 points and Morris Peterson and Andre Hutson each added 11 to lead No. 10 Michigan State (13-5, 4-1) to a 69-45 triumph over Northwestern (4-13, 0-5) in the Big Ten. The Spartans had their 21-game Big Ten winning streak snapped by Ohio State last Thursday. Northwestern lost its eighth straight.
Bernard King scored 17 points, including two clinching free throws with nine seconds left, as Texas A&M (6-10, 2-3) got its first victory over a ranked team in 13 years, a 64-59 win over No. 12 Oklahoma State (14-2, 3-1) in the Big 12. The Aggies' last victory over a ranked team was in the first round of the Southwest Conference tournament in 1987 when they beat No. 15 Texas Christian in the first round.
Chris Mihm had 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead No. 14 Texas (12-5, 4-1) to a 72-59 victory over Texas Tech (9-6, 0-4) in the Big 12.
Brandon Kurtz and Greg Harrington had 18 points apiece as No. 15 Tulsa (18-1, 4-0) claimed a 100-78 victory over Hawaii (13-5, 2-3) in the Western Athletic Conference.
Eduardo Najera scored seven of his 25 points in the second overtime as No. 17 Oklahoma (15-3, 3-2), which blew a 14-point second-half lead, held on for an 80-75 win over Iowa State (16-3, 4-1) in the Big 12.
Damous Anderson scored a career-high 25 points while Ron Hale scored 17, including the go-ahead basket at 1:06 left, as Florida State (8-8, 3-2) handed No. 21 North Carolina (11-8, 2-3) its fourth straight loss, 76-71, in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Alex Jensen had 19 points and 14 rebounds as No. 22 Utah (14-3, 3-0) survived its worst shooting game of the season to take a 69-61 win over Wyoming (11-8, 1-3) in the Mountain West Conference. The Utes were 23 of 59 from the floor for 39 percent.
Justin Love scored 10 of his 18 points in overtime and Saint Louis (10-7, 2-3) took a 75-69 win over No. 23 DePaul (12-6, 3-3) in Conference USA.
Tahj Holden had 12 points and 10 rebounds in his first career start and No. 24 Maryland (13-5, 2-3) stormed to a 74-62 win over Clemson (6-12, 0-5) in the ACC. The Terps were without No. 2 scorer Terence Morris, who sprained his left ankle Wednesday against Wake Forest. The junior forward had played in 83 straight games, including 51 consecutive starts.
Freshman Jason Kapono scored 24 points and reserve Matt Barnes added 17 as No. 25 UCLA (11-5, 2-3) scored an 83-77 win over Arizona State (11-6, 3-3) in the Pac-10.