Syracuse Basketball: How's Life Without James Southerland?

USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange have been without senior forward James Southerland for three games, and despite the loss they have three straight victories. However, the question remains: How are the Orange actually doing without Southerland?

The No. 3-ranked Syracuse Orange have played three games without senior forward and 3-point shooter James Southerland, and so far the loss hasn't hurt the Orange (18-1, 6-0 Big East) in the win-loss column as they're 3-0 since his ineligibility was made public.

However, in the absence of the 6-foot-8 sharp-shooter SU has played in a pair of nail-biters - Saturday's 70-68 victory at the former No. 1-ranked Louisville Cardinals and Monday's 57-55 victory against the visiting Cincinnati Bearcats - and some could presume the Orange's overall play is slipping without Southerland on the floor.

Is this true? Here's what the stats say - please be aware the sample size is small, however, it is large enough to give us an idea of how SU is dealing/adjusting to the loss.

3-point shooting

Before being ruled ineligible, Southerland was taking 28-percent of Syracuse's 3-point attempts and making about 38-percent of them.

As a team the Orange were knocking down 32-percent of their 3-point shots, which were being attempted about 19 times a game.

Brandon Triche (66 attempts, 32-percent) and Michael Carter-Williams (57 attempts, 28-percent) were, respectively, SU's second- and third-best 3-point shooting options, even though, freshman Trevor Cooney had attempted 60 3-pointers and was making the same percentage as MCW.

Since Southerland was ruled ineligible, the Orange are averaging almost 16 3-point attempts per game (nearly three less than they were attempting), but are making just as many per game - before Southerland the average 3-point makes per game was 6.2, while now it is 5.6.

The Orange's 3-point shooting percentage has increased from 32-percent to 36-percent, however, the overall field goal percentage has dropped oh so slightly from 46-percent to 45-percent.

Triche has taken the most 3-pointers (17) and is making the highest percentage (41), while MCW has attempted the second most 3-pointers (14) but is making just 29-percent.

Surprisingly, Cooney hasn't been as bad as some may think. He's 4-for-11 (36-percent) since Southerland vacated the lineup.

Rebounding

The biggest statistical drop off has been on the boards.

Syracuse has been out-rebounded in two of its last three victories, and went from collecting nearly 44 rebounds per game to just 33 per game. Of course, the Orange did play two of the best rebounding teams in conference play - Louisville is ranked first out of 15 teams in rebound margin while Cincinnati is ranked fourth. (Side note: Villanova is ranked seventh.)

The Orange went from snagging nearly 17 offensive rebounds per game to just over 10. On defense, SU went from averaging nearly 28 rebounds to just over 22.

However, the rebound margin (7.8) has stayed the same.

Freshman Jerami Grant has been the guy making up for the loss of Southerland, as his rebounding average went from 2.2 per game to 5.7 over the last three games.

But - and this is a big but - the rebounding averages of MCW, C.J. Fair, Rakeem Christmas and Dajuan Coleman have dropped. Not drastically, however, but the averages have dropped.

Defense

The length of Syracuse's 2-3 zone defense has take a bit of a hit, however, there has not been any drastic changes when it comes to opponents scoring - still at 58 ppg - 3-point shooting - still at 28-percent - and field goal percentage - which holding steady at 36-percent.

So, there you have it. Despite playing through one of its toughest parts of its Big East schedule, statistically, SU hasn't lost much.

Luckily, different players are stepping up and if this trend continues Syracuse could be just fine heading into March.

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