As Chris Obekpa ran up the court following his fallaway shot clock-beating jumper, he shook his head and laughed. A few seconds later, he was smiling again after his sixth block of the night.
That's the thing with having a veteran starting lineup: On any given night, any player can have one of those nights when everything is working.
Monday night, it was Obekpa's career night that helped No. 17 St. John's overcome a sloppy first half and early second-half deficit in its 66-49 win over Long Beach State at Carnesecca Arena.
"He's one of the most-improved players I've ever seen," St. John's coach Steve Lavin said of Obekpa.
St. John's earned its sixth straight win to move to 10-1 for the first time since 1990-91.
Obekpa shone on both ends of the court, with a season-high 16 points, eight rebounds and six blocks, shooting 7-for-8.
"We have a senior group," Obekpa said. "One of our comrades goes down, foul trouble or an off night, we know any of us can step up."
The rest of the starting lineup had to step up as Rysheed Jordan was out with a stomach virus, and D'Angelo Harrison had a rare off game prompted by early foul trouble. For the first time this season, Harrison, who entered the game leading the Big East with 19.8 points per game, had nine points and 10 rebounds.
Sir'Dominic Pointer had 11 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and two steals. Phil Greene IV and Jamal Branch had 16 and 11 points, respectively.
"We're a tough team," Pointer said. "We can play through a lot of things. People in foul trouble, people going down."
After a sloppy first half in which both teams struggled -- Long Beach shot 24.3 percent, including 1-for-13 (7.7 percent) from three-point range, and St. John's had six turnovers in the first eight minutes -- St. John's cleaned up its play the rest of the way. The Red Storm had only one turnover in the next 32 minutes, and used a late 15-3 run to pull away.
"I was pleased with our defensive effort," Lavin said. "Long Beach presents a number of problems because of their ability to shoot the ball from long range. Coming in, they're nearly 40 percent from the three-point line.
"This is a team that continues to get better."
But the No. 17 ranking still doesn't mean much to the players.
"It's not like it's there forever," Pointer said. "It just says we're playing good right now. It's up to you, you have to keep working."