NEW YORK (Ticker) -- No. 15 North Carolina State battles St.
John's for the championship of the Holiday Festival at Madison
Square Garden on Thursday.
The Wolfpack struggled for a while with Columbia before
defeating the Lions, 84-74, on Tuesday. Cameron Bannerman
scored a career-high 24 points for N.C. State.New York native Julius Hodge, last year's Atlantic Coast
Conference Player of the Year, scored 22 in his first game
at the Garden, despite playing just 12 minutes in the second
half because of foul trouble.N.C. State shot 60 percent in the second half and forced 24
turnovers against Columbia.St. John's has a 60-32 tournament record since 1952 and is
gunning for its 11th championship and first since 1996.The Red Storm easily handled Canisius, 71-51, on Tuesday. Daryll
Hill scored 23 points and Lamont Hamilton added 21, as St.
John's broke open the game with a 26-8 run early in the second
half.St. John's played without Rodney Epperson, who was suspended
indefinitely on Monday while the school reviews his transfer
from a community college. He is averaging 14 points.