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USATSI

With No. 4 Michigan on an extended pause due to COVID-19 precautions and No. 5 Houston falling on Wednesday to lowly East Carolina, any doubt about Villanova's status as the nation's third-best team behind Gonzaga and Baylor seemed to be dissipating. But that might have changed Wednesday as the No. 3 Wildcats ran into a defensive buzzsaw at St. John's and dropped a 70-59 decision for their first loss since Nov. 28.

The Wildcats (11-2, 6-1 Big East) entered as the Big East's leaders in 3-point shooting percentage but hit just 8-of-30 from long range and committed 17 turnovers while struggling to deal with the defensive pressure applied by St. John's (12-7, 6-6). That pressure led the Red Storm to their fifth straight win on Wednesday. 

Reigning Big East Freshman of the Week Posh Alexander led the St. John's with 16 points and he hounded Wildcats star guard Collin Gillespie all night, limiting him to four points on 2-of-12 shooting. Alexander is the Big East's leader in steals at 2.7 per game and the young star racked up another three against the Wildcats. His steal and dunk with 6:49 remaining put St. John's up 58-41 and effectively ended the Wildcats' chances of a comeback.

It was just Villanova's fourth game back following an extended pause due to COVID-19 issues, and the game came in an unfamiliar venue. St. John's normally hosts the Wildcats at Madison Square Garden, but for the first time since 1994, they met at Carnesecca Arena. Villanova was the highest-ranked team to play at the Red Storm's on-campus arena in over 40 years, and St. John's made sure it was a night to remember. The Red Storm are now 2-5 in Quad 1 games and should expect a nice bump in their NET ranking tomorrow after entering the night ranked No. 82.