USA TODAY Sports
Mired in a three-game losing streak and with the postseason looming, the Syracuse Orange hosted the DePaul Blue Demons in the final home game for seniors Brandon Triche and James Southerland, as well as the final Big East game at the Carrier Dome.
Here’s my report card from courtside:
Head of the Class
James Southerland: In an odd twist, Southerland put perhaps his best effort of the season together while having his worst shooting game from the floor. He started in place of Jerami Grant and put up 22 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes, including a scorching 11-11 from the free throw line. 6 of his 10 rebounds came at the offensive end, three of them on the same possession. That energy and hustle overcame a horrid 1-10 shooting performance from beyond the arc, which doesn’t bode well for a team that is seeing more zone defenses as the season progresses.
Interior Play: In addition to Southerland’s boardwork, SU’s three-headed center monster also contributed meaningful minutes for the first time in about a month. Rakeem Christmas was active around the basket, scoring 6 points on 3-7 shooting – and he would have had more if he could have put away a couple more lobs. Baye Keita was 2-3 for 4 points and added 4 rebounds, and the team as a whole grabbed 47 boards (to DePaul’s 38) and drew 25 fouls on the night.
Free Throw Shooting: As our good friend Brent Axe likes to say, free throws matter. Wednesday night SU got to the line 31 times on those aforementioned 25 fouls, and made 24 for a healthy 77.8%. Southerland led the way, but Brandon Triche was 7-9 and Michael Carter-Williams was 4-5 in a burst of aggressiveness from the SU backcourt.
Stay After Class
I’m going to take a moment to shout out to the anonymous (presumably former) manager of the official Syracuse University Twitter account, @SyracuseU, who saw fit to tweet a link Wednesday night to a website saying that Jim Boeheim has been asked to retire by University officials. SU Athletics spokesman Pete Moore told me and other reporters unequivocably “no” when asked if there were any plans for a Boeheim retirement. I was surprised to see a tweet like that come from the official SU account, and it makes me wonder how a thing like that could happen.
Final Grade: B
SU heads to Georgetown this weekend for one final regular season conference showdown with the hated Hoyas. Let’s hope this win will get the Orange back on track, or else it’s going to be a short March for the hometown team.
James Southerland speaks to the media following SU’s win over DePaul: