NEW YORK (AP)—Boston College coach Al Skinner isn’t getting caught up in his Eagles being one of three remaining unbeaten teams in Division I.
“We’re just trying to have success in our league. That’s what counts with us,” Skinner said after No. 9 Boston College beat St. John’s 79-73 on Saturday night. “The 11-0 non-league mark is already in the books and for that to pay dividends we have to continue what we’re doing.”
Jared Dudley scored 19 points to lead Boston College’s balanced offense to a win that extended the best start in school history and left the Eagles (16-0, 5-0 Big East) three shy of the school-best winning streak set by the 1968-69 team. It was the ninth straight road win for Boston College, which is in its final season in the Big East before moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Top-ranked Illinois and No. 4 Duke are the other unbeatens as No. 2 Kansas lost earlier Saturday to Villanova.
Six of the seven players who saw action for Boston College scored at least nine points. Jermaine Watson, one of the best sixth men in college basketball, had 16 points, six above his average.
Watson went 7-for-8 from the field, grabbed four rebounds and three of the Eagles’ 12 steals.
“It was his kind of game, a little 1-on-1, a lot of up and down,” Skinner said. “He took it as a challenge. Those are the kind of challenges he likes and he was obviously very effective.”
Darryl Hill, the Big East’s leading scorer with a 20.9 average, had 21 points for the Red Storm (7-8, 1-4), who fell to 2-2 against ranked teams this season. They were coming off a 65-62 victory over No. 21 Pittsburgh and also beat then-No. 17 North Carolina State.
Hill didn’t start for the first time this season. First-year coach Norm Roberts sat him for the opening 3:34 for being 3 minutes late to a team meeting.
“I deserved it. I was late,” the sophomore guard said. “I have to set a better example as a captain.”
With the crowd at Carnesecca Arena held to 2,314 because of the snowstorm blanketing the Northeast, St. John’s jumped to an 11-2 lead. Boston College took the lead for good at 28-26 on a 3-pointer by 7-footer Nate Doornekamp with 4:43 left in the first half.
The Red Storm used some solid shooting to stay close but the Eagles used an 8-2 run to take a 53-46 lead with 12:57 to go.
Watson’s layup with 8:03 left gave Boston College its first double-digit lead, 60-50, and the biggest it got was 67-54 on two free throws by Sean Williams with 6:15 to go.
The Red Storm shot 54 percent in the first half but struggled to shoot 44 percent in the second half against the Eagles’ matchup zone.
“We got good shots, we didn’t make them,” Roberts said. “We struggled, obviously. We’re not a good outside shooting team.”
Louis Hinnant added 12 points for Boston College, while Craig Smith and Sean Marshall each had 10 and Doornekamp had nine.
Freshman guard Eugene Lawrence had a career-high 18 points for the Red Storm and Lamont Hamilton had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
“They rebounded well and beat us to loose balls, especially early,” Skinner said of the Red Storm, who are coming off a 6-21 season, the worst in school history. “We were able to get some turnovers that led to easy baskets.”
Boston College was the first Top Ten team to play in Carnesecca Arena, which used to be called Alumni Hall, since No. 7 Louisville beat No. 9 St. John’s there 76-71 on Feb. 3, 1980.
Many of the Boston College players had said during the week they were upset they had to play in the on-campus arena rather than Madison Square Garden, the Red Storm’s other home court.
“Our guys were disappointed but not me,” Skinner said. “Maybe I’m old school but I kind of enjoyed it here.”