Bobby Knight was right about St. John's.
The Red Storm, seeded third in the South Regional, were every bit as tough, athletic and difficult to play as the Indiana coach feared and handed Knight's Hoosiers their worst-ever defeat in the NCAA Tournament -- an 86-61 decision Saturday.
Bootsy Thornton had 17 points and Lavor Postell had 16 and 10 rebounds to lead a balanced attack that overwhelmed Indiana just two days after the sixth-seeded Hoosiers scored 108 points for their highest point total ever in a postseason game.
"They're just a lot better team than we are. If we played them five more times, I'm not sure we could beat them," Knight said. "Of the teams I've seen play against us this year, this was the most impressive."
The victory sends St. John's (27-8) into the round of 16 for the first time since 1991. Indiana (23-11) fell in the second round for the second consecutive year after three consecutive first-round exits.
The Hoosiers' previous biggest margin of defeat in a tournament game was 18 twice. Kansas beat Indiana 83-65 in 1991 and Colorado trounced the Hoosiers 80-62 two years ago.
First-year St. John's coach Mike Jarvis is not sure his team can top Saturday's performance. The Red Storm frustrated Indiana with a suffocating zone, using principles Jarvis said came from a book Knight wrote more than 30 years ago.
"I think this was as well as we've played when you take all the factors into consideration. ... We hopefully can get better. I don't know if we can," Jarvis said.
Indiana dominated George Washington in the opening round by getting the ball inside to freshman Kirk Haston and pushing the ball up the floor in transition to beat the Colonials at their own game.
The Tempo slowed against St. John's, which trailed 15-9 before using a 13- run to take control. A seven-point burst built the Red Storm lead to 15. The closest the Hoosiers got after that was their 45-30 halftime deficit.
| Saturday's game gave Bob Knight a headache. (AP)|
Indiana has struggled against zone defenses all season, and falling behind forced the Hoosiers to rely on perimeter shooting more than Knight would like.
After attempting just three shots from behind the 3-point arc against George Washington, the Hoosiers went 4-for-18 against what Jarvis said was the most zone one of his teams has ever played.
"It was nothing complicated," the St. John's coach said. "I'm not going to be hired to give any lectures about how to play zone."
Nevertheless, it was effective.
"It's a tough zone because of how quick and athletic they are. I don't think we were able to adjust to it," said Indiana's A.J. Guyton, who hit one of the three 3-pointers that led the Hoosiers to their early lead.
"We were staying in the game, doing the things we wanted," Knight said. "And then they just kind of got away from us."
There was no letup for St. John's in the last 20 minutes. The Red Storm began the second half with a 10-2 spurt to increase their lead to 55-32.
Indiana got more production out of its interior game in the second half, but not enough to come close to turning its fortune around. Haston, who had 27 points Thursday night despite playing with a broken left hand, scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half for the Hoosiers.
William Gladness, with 10 points, was the only other player in double figures for Indiana, which shot 40 percent.
All five of St. John's starters scored at least 12. Tyrone Grant had 14 points and 12 rebounds. Ron Artest scored 13 and Erick Barkley finished with 10 points and six assists.
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