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Joel Soriano, St. John’s dispatch Xavier in Big East opener

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Joel Soriano posted another double-double and added a career-high six blocks Wednesday night for host St. John’s, which never trailed in an 81-66 win over Xavier in the Big East opener for both schools in Queens, N.Y.

Soriano had 18 points and 14 rebounds in his seventh double-double this season for St. John’s (8-3, 1-0 Big East), which won in Rick Pitino’s first game as a Big East coach since he directed Louisville to a national championship in 2013.

Nahiem Alleyne scored 15 points, while Chris Ledlum (13 points), Daniss Jenkins (11 points) and Jordan Dingle (10 points) all got into double-figures for the Red Storm.

Desmond Claude also had a double-double (21 points, 12 rebounds) for Xavier (6-6, 0-1 Big East), which shot just 34.9 percent from the field, including 19 percent (4-of-21) from the 3-point line. Quincy Olivari added 13 points.

Jenkins scored five points in a game-opening 8-0 run for St. John’s. Xavier missed its first four shots and committed a pair of turnovers before mounting a 15-9 run and pulling within 17-15 on a pair of free throws by Claude with 12:21 left.

Glenn Taylor Jr. turned the ball over on St. John’s’ next trip, but Dayvion McKnight missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer for Xavier. The Red Storm remained ahead by between three and nine points the rest of the half and took a 44-36 lead on Dingle’s jumper just before the buzzer.

Ledlum began the second half with a 3-pointer to put the Red Storm ahead by double digits for good and begin another defensive-fueled run for St. John’s, which outscored Xavier 9-2 while the Musketeers went 0-for-9 from the field with three turnovers in the first 4:38.

Xavier got within 10 points at 64-54 on two free throws by Claude with 6:49 left, but Soriano scored 10 points down the stretch and slammed home a dunk to give St. John’s its biggest lead at 79-59 with 2:14 left.

–Field Level Media

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