By Dylan Butler
Williams' pounded Jenkins high, sending Jenkins crashing to the floor with a message for him and his first-year Big East opponents: This ain't Conference USA. Jenkins attempted to send a message back to Williams, but he was held back by his teammates.It was plays like that, gritty, hard-nosed plays, that led St. John's to a convincing 68-56 upset over No. 17 Louisville at Madison Square Garden.”That's just a basketball play,” Williams said. “You don't let him get a layup.”The Cardinals came in with its bloated national ranking and a flashy coach in Rick Pitino. But St. John's (9-6, 2-2 Big East) brought the attitude and toughness that embodies New York City basketball.That determination, that intimidation led to domination on the boards for the Red Storm. Led by Anthony Mason Jr. and Daryll Hill, who shot just 1-of-13 but grabbed 10 rebounds, St. John's outrebounded Louisville, 41-26.It's the same old story for the young and inexperienced Cardinals, who were also outrebounded in Big East losses to Pittsburgh and Villanova and played without star guard Taquan Dean, who was sidelined with a high ankle sprain.”We may have survived a little bit if we were in Conference USA with this team but surviving in the Big East is a different story,” Pitino said. “You have to grow up in a hurry.”Roberts extended his frontcourt rotation, with first-year forward Tomas Jasiulionis and former walk-on Phil Missere combining for 18 minutes off the bench. Starters Lamont Hamilton and Aaron Spears combined for 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting.Mason Jr. had perhaps his best game of his young St. John's career, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds and Eugene Lawrence tied a career-high with 18 points, including his team's first 12 and 14 of the first 16.After shooting 25 percent (5-of-20) and committing 12 turnovers in the first half, the Johnnies rebounded in the second half. They shot 53.3 percent and had just three turnovers. St. John's, which snapped a 25-game road losing streak Saturday at South Florida, scored 17 points off Louisville's 12 turnovers and scored 18 second chance points.”Instead of them being aggressive, they took a step back,” Lawrence said of Louisville.Spears tossed Louisville's David Padgett to the floor early in the first half and it appeared the Red Storm's physical play took its toll on the 6-foot-11 sophomore. Padgett, who averages 12.3 points per game, didn't score his first point until a free throw with 8:19 left in the game. And he had more fouls (four) than points (three).”They are tough, they get after you,” Pitino said of St. John's. “They have quick hands and are hard-nosed.”The win over Louisville (13-4, 1-3) is big, perhaps the biggest of the Norm Roberts era, even bigger than last year's stunner over nationally ranked North Carolina State in last year's Holiday Festival.But how St. John's reacts to this victory, its second in the Big East, will go a long way to deciding this win's importance. Especially with games against Pittsburgh and Connecticut on the horizon.”It's a huge win for our program but what I said to the guys inside is we just have to take this and learn from this,” Roberts said. “We've got to come with the same focus every single night and when you do that, you have a chance to compete with anybody in the country.”Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.