by David Cassilo / @dcassilo

If we know one thing about St. John’s so far this season, it is that they might be the most confusing team in all of college basketball. Just eight days after a non-competitive 15-point loss at Notre Dame, the Johnnies returned the favor at home with a 72-54 win over the Irish.

The difference this time around was defense and bench production. The Red Storm held Notre Dame to just 19 first half points. Meanwhile, its bench outscored the Fighting Irish 24-to-7, led by 14 points from Malik Boothe.

In the middle of a trecherous stretch of playing against eight straight ranked teams (although Cincinnati is likely to drop from the rankings), St. John’s is now off to a respectable 2-2 start.

From The New York Post:

This was the fourth of eight straight games against ranked teams for the Red Storm. They started the run with a win over Georgetown, then lost to Notre Dame and Syracuse.

“Look at anybody’s next six games in this league,” Mike Brey said, referring to the Big East having half of the top 10 and eight overall in the poll. “It is by far the best league in the country. Everybody watches it because it’s drama and it’s playing out again.”

This is the first time St. John’s has beaten two ranked teams in a season since 2005-06, when they defeated Louisville and Pittsburgh.

Even with such a daunting schedule, the Red Storm sit fifth in the Big East with a 4-2 conference record. That’s ahead of teams like UConn, West Virginia, Notre Dame and Georgetown. The Johnnies might not be back to a title contender, but it’s becoming apparent that Steve Lavin has them back to relevancy.