With their 71-67 win over Seton Hall on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, St. John’s has now won four in a row.
Led by D’Angelo Harrison’s 24 points and seven rebounds, the Johnnies improved to 13-7 overall and 5-3 in the Big East.
They are now tied for third in the conference with Pittsburgh and trail only Syracuse (6-1) and Marquette (5-1).
“We’re a work in progress but I think we’re trending upwards,” Johnnies coach Steve Lavin told reporters.
With DePaul (10-9, 1-5) up next at home on Wednesday, the Johnnies stand a strong chance of moving to 6-3 in the league.
“That would be big-time,” freshman forward JaKarr Sampson , who had 19 points and five boards in the win, said after the Rutgers win.
“The league is kind of crazy right now. We could probably separate ourself from the pack. These next two games are big for us.”
Gene Teague led Seton Hall (13-7, 2-5) with 22 points and Fuquan Edwin added 14 points, including the 1,000th of his career, to go with nine rebounds.
“We don’t start halves well and we don’t end halves well,” cracked Pirates coach Kevin Willard.
Pope John coach Jason Hasson attended the game with freshman point guard Bryce Aiken. Senior forward Jermaine Lawrence, who is considering St. John’s, Cincinnati and UNLV, did not attend with them.