There have been a lot of oddities at the Garden of late, and there was another one Saturday afternoon: The best big man in the Big East wasn’t the best forward on the floor.

Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado, the nation’s leading rebounder, was outdone by Tariq Owens, St. John’s lanky and thin-as-a-rail sophomore forward, a major key in the Johnnies’ commanding, 78-70 victory at the Garden.

“It was the effort,” said Owens, who had 10 points, 12 rebounds, four blocked shots and two steals. “I made the conscious effort to do everything I could.”

Delgado got his numbers — 13 points, 10 rebounds and five assists — but he also committed five turnovers, and went 1-for-6 from the field in the first half, when St. John’s took control. He had to work for everything. Delgado had his shot blocked multiple times, a rarity for him, and seemed tentative on occasion, looking for Kassoum Yakwe and Owens even when they weren’t there.

It was a complete reversal from the last matchup between the two locals, when Delgado destroyed the Red Storm, posting a 21-point, 20-rebound performance in a lopsided victory. St. John’s coach Chris Mullin started Yakwe and Owens together, unlike the last game against Seton Hall (15-9, 5-7 Big East), which was a difference, too.

“Not a whole lot different game plan, a lot different execution of that game plan with activity, physicality, a little more decisiveness,” Mullin said. “Sometimes that dictates how the game goes.”

Yakwe and Owens combined for 18 points and shot 7-of-15 from the field, giving the Johnnies (12-14, 6-7) the kind of inside production it has lacked much of the year. Owens seemed to turn the game’s momentum with back-to-back highlight reel plays, flying in to swat a Myles Powell layup attempt on one end and soaring over Delgado for a follow-dunk on the other. It jump-started a momentum-turning 16-3 run to close the opening half.

“I think it brought energy to the building, and to our team, too,” Mullin said. “Tariq always has a huge impact on the game whether he scores or not, but I thought [that] one exchange where he had the block and a tip dunk probably changed the whole complexion of the game with his energy and effort.”

The setback pushes Seton Hall, already on the NCAA Tournament bubble, to the brink, with a massive three-game homestand coming up. The Pirates host No. 23 Creighton on Wednesday, followed by second-ranked Villanova and No. 24 Xavier. Anything less than two wins would be dangerous to their March hopes.

“We still have a great opportunity in front of us,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “We have to step up to the challenge.”

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