Forward James Southerland’s audition for playing time in the Syracuse rotation continues as Syracuse (10-0) hosts Morgan State (4-4) for the first time ever on Dec. 19 at the Carrier Dome.
Southerland played 10 minutes in Syracuse’s 83-77 win over Iona on Saturday. The sophomore scored seven points and grabbed two rebounds after C.J. Fair (ankle) and Fab Melo (calf) were unavailable in the second half.
“James kind of got going,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “I thought they’d start fouling sooner. So I wanted James (Southerland) in there.”
Southerland made his impact known right away.
He finished in transition off a Brandon Triche pass, and later threw down an alley-oop from Scoop Jardine. Before his night was over, he would also drain a 3-pointer from beyond NBA range.
All in all, it was another step forward for Southerland, who played significant minutes for the second straight game. Southerland also played 22 minutes, scoring seven points, against Colgate.
“Everything felt comfortable,” Southerland said. “The first touch seemed to help me out and then I got an early dunk. They called an alley-oop play for me; as soon as I got in the game they made sure I got involved. It really helped.”
It will also really help the Orange to have another player with experience coming off the bench when the Big East portion of the schedule starts.
“It makes it feel like your teammates trust you a little bit more when they know you’re not rusty,” Southerland said. “Straight from when I got out there, Scoop (Jardine) told me to shoot the ball. He knows what I can do from practice. That’s what I did today and got on a little bit of a roll.”
Southerland will match up against Morgan State’s DeWayne Jackson who is averaging 15.4 points per game and Kevin Thompson, who averages 14.0 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. The Golden Bears are coming off a 75-62 win over Maryland Baltimore County.
Morgan State has been to the NCAA tournament two years in a row, and is the defending MEAC conference champion.
“Obviously, we knew scheduling these games we play really good teams,” Boeheim said. “The bottom line is it doesn’t matter who you play. There are a lot of good teams, a lot of good basketball players.”
Wesley Cheng is the Editor in Chief for The Juice Online.