Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - J.J. O'Brien led the way with 18 points as San Diego State topped St. John's 76-64 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament
Dwayne Polee II, a St. John's transfer, scored 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range, while Matt Shrigley and Skylar Spencer scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, for the eighth-seeded Aztecs (27-8). They will face first-seeded Duke in a third-round South Region matchup on Sunday.
"We score this many points, we've got a chance against anybody," San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher said. "Our guys did a nice job. I love the way we compete and play for one another, so really good win for San Diego State. We're glad that we're here and going to be playing another game on Sunday."
Sir'Dominic Pointer netted 21 points with 10 boards and two blocks, while D'Angelo Harrison provided 18 points with nine rebounds for the ninth-seeded Red Storm (21-12), who have not won a tournament game since 2000.
"Proud of this group of seniors taking us on this ride, restoring pride in St. John's, getting us back to the NCAA Tournament and representing the University in such a first-class manner," St. John's head coach Steve Lavin said. "True to their character, they fought and scraped and showed grit, fight, right to the last possession of the game."
Polee opened the second half with a triple off a Winston Shepard steal and a pair of O'Brien baskets ended a 9-2 run that gave the Aztecs a 49-35 lead just over three minutes in.
St. John's scored seven unanswered points to pull within 55-48 and held its opponent off the board for over five minutes. Trey Kell split a pair of free throws and Spencer threw down a thunderous slam to push the Aztecs' lead back up to 10 with 8:47 to go.
Shrigley's corner 3 made it a 12-point game with 4:33 remaining, but the Red Storm did not go away as Rysheed Jordan's trey got them within 68-60 with two minutes to play.
Kell and Shepard each made a pair of free throws over the next 33 seconds to put the game out of reach.
Polee knocked down three treys during a 9-2 run for a 13-6 Aztecs lead just over four minutes into the game. The Red Storm countered with a Jamal Branch jumper and a pair of Pointer layups to make it a one-point game.
Trailing by one, the Aztecs embarked on a 12-2 run for a 36-27 lead with 2:50 remaining in the first half. Polee ignited the burst with a shot from beyond the arc and O'Brien supplied six points.
Phil Greene IV and D'Angelo Harrison each buried 3s around an O'Brien layup to cut the deficit to five with 27 seconds to play, but Malik Pope's jumper beat the buzzer to give the Aztecs a 40-33 advantage at halftime.
St. John's center Chris Obekpa was suspended for two weeks for violating team rules ... San Diego State's bench provided 24 points, while the Red Storm's reserves failed to score ...The Aztecs have now gone 81 consecutive games without back-to-back losses ... St. John's has won seven of eight games before dropping its final three contests by a combined total of 66 points ... It was the first-ever meeting between the two games.