NEW YORK — The resurgence of James Southerland continues.
Southerland scored 10 points and added four rebounds and two blocks in a season-high 27 minutes as Syracuse moved on to the Big East tournament semifinals with a 58-55 win over Connecticut.
The Orange trailed by as many as eight points midway through the second half, but Southerland hit two 3-pointers during an 8-0 run that turned a 47-43 deficit with 8:16 left into a 51-47 lead roughly three minutes later.
“James is a very, very good offensive player, and I think he hasn’t scratched his potential,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “He’s getting better every day.”
It was the latest performance in an upward trend for the junior, who had scored seven points in two straight games against Louisville and Connecticut prior to Thursday. It was the first time Southerland had been in double digits since he had 15 points on Jan. 21 against Notre Dame.
In the six weeks in between, Southerland struggled significantly, going scoreless in three of the eight games. From Feb. 8 to Feb. 22, he had been averaging 1.4 points.
The afternoon started in the same way, as he missed his first two shots of the game.
“The first one I felt was good,” Southerland said. “The second one was kind of rushed.”
But the Orange continued to look for him, and like in the past two games, the shots started falling. He finished the day 3-for-6 from the field.
“It’s good my teammates are here for me,” Southerland said. “They’re not giving up on me just because I missed two shots, and it feels good.”
His teammates were certainly looking for him down the stretch.
Southerland’s last basket of the day—an 18-footer from the baseline—came from Dion Waiters.
“I know he’s going to be ready to shoot,” Waiters said. “I couldn’t ask for anything else. He played a great game.”