James Southerland scored a career high 18 points and Rick Jackson added 18 points and nine rebounds as Syracuse rolled past Morgan State 97-55.
Southerland, once considered an afterthought in Syracuse’s rotation, hit his first six shots of the game and finished 7-for-10 from the field to go along with five rebounds and two blocks.
“He’s fully capable of making those shots, it’s taken him a little while to get comfortable,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “He’s getting a good opportunity and getting good looks. He’s shooting the ball with a lot of confidence. He played well, it was a good game for him.”
The Orange (12-0) shot 53 percent from the field as 13 different players scored. Syracuse was also unselfish with the ball as SU logged 31 assists on 39 baskets. Guards Brandon Triche and Dion Waiters combined for 15 of them.
“That’s a lot of assists – that’s really good,” Boeheim said. “Everyone looked for each other. Everyone was unselfish moving the ball. Really, everybody did a great job.”
That included Fab Melo, who has been hobbled by a sore calf. Melo scored a career high nine points while adding four blocks.
“When you play better, you don’t hurt as much sometimes,” Boeheim said. “But he’s still hurt, he’s still sore.”
Morgan State (4-5), the two-time defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion, was led by Kevin Thompson’s 15 points and freshman Justin Black’s 14.
But the night belonged to Southerland, who scored from all areas of the court. Known as a deadeye in practice from long range, Southerland finally showed what he could do in a game situation, hitting 4-of-6 of his 3-point shots.
“I knew I was in a shooting slump earlier in the year but I stayed focused and I started hitting shots,” Southerland said. “I went back in the gym and made sure I was doing everything right, that was my form was correct. Shooting more shots in the gym helped me with that.”
Southerland has seen significant playing time over the past two games with an injury to freshman C.J. Fair. Against Iona, Southerland played 10 minutes and scored seven points.
Tonight, Southerland picked up where he left off, coming off the bench to drain two 3s to give Syracuse a 26-16 lead. Jackson followed with a couple of dunks to cap a 12-0 Orange run, as they opened up a 32-16 lead. Syracuse would never be threatened the rest of the game.
“You could see things were flowing,” Southerland said. “You hit a couple shots, it really opens up the inside and you saw Rick get some dunks.”
The Orange, who came into the game hitting under 30 percent of their 3-pointers, shot 12-for-25 from downtown.
“We had a lot of shooting slump games where we weren’t making shots,” guard Scoop Jardine said. “Tonight, James gave us a big lift. He made shots. It got us going. When we make shots like this, it feels like last year’s team because that’s what it was last year.”
Wesley Cheng the Editor in Chief for The Juice Online.