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St. John's defense locks down Irish

NEW YORK -- St. John's turned things around against Notre Dame with defense, smothering perimeter defense.

Eight days after a 15-point loss at Notre Dame, St. John's beat the Irish, 72-54, on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

"My statement is St. John's defended the heck out us," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "We had trouble with their fullcourt pressure, with their halfcourt stuff. We could never get in any rhythm."

It's hard to imagine that two games played between the same teams just eight days apart could be more different.

Malik Boothe and D.J. Kennedy each scored 14 points for the Red Storm (11-5, 4-2), who lost, 76-61, at Notre Dame last Saturday, shooting just 38.2 percent from the field while the Fighting Irish (14-4, 3-3) shot 51 percent.

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W. Virginia trips Purdue

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia coach Bob Huggins threw everything he could defensively at No. 8 Purdue until the Mountaineers finally found a rhythm on offense.

Kevin Jones scored nine of his 17 points during a late 18-6 run and West Virginia held off the Boilermakers, 68-64.

West Virginia (12-4) has won a season-high four straight.

"This was as much a team effort as any game we've played this year," Huggins said.

The Boilermakers (15-3) lost despite shooting 16 of 30 (53 percent) from the floor in the second half.

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Orange faces huge test

SYRACUSE -- The Syracuse Orange (18-0, 5-0 Big East) are one win from matching the best start in school history set in the 1999-2000 season, but they'll have to play without leading scorer Kris Joseph at Pittsburgh tonight for first place in the Big East.

Joseph crashed hard to the floor on a drive and the back of his head slammed the hardwood with just over six minutes left in the first half in the fourth-ranked Orange's 67-52 victory over No. 25 Cincinnati on Saturday. He won't make the trip because of recurring headaches, according to SU spokesman Pete Moore.

Now comes fifth-ranked Pitt (17-1, 5-0), which has beaten Syracuse seven straight times in the regular season and thrives at home.

"We've been playing great," Syracuse forward Rick Jackson said. "Pitt's going to be tough. They call it the zoo."

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