Freshman Jerami Grant has been trust into a much larger role with the absence of senior forward James Southerland.
In the four games since Southerland was ruled ineligible, Grant has picked up the majority of the minutes and made the most of it. In the Orange’s 75-71 overtime loss to Villanova on Saturday, Grant turned in another solid performance, with 12 points and 5 rebounds off the bench in 27 minutes.
“I’ve just been pleased with my confidence and being able to come out and play more minutes on the court and help my team out,” Grant said to The Juice Online. “I feel like everything’s falling into place.”
» Related: What we learned from the loss
SU needed a spark, trailing 32-26 at half, and turned to Grant, who started the second half over fellow freshman DaJuan Coleman. He started the half with a pair of free throws and then put-back a CJ Fair miss. On the next possession, Grant drained a 3-pointer.
Grant’s personal 7-0 run gave Syracuse its first lead of the game at 33-32.
“Jerami had a really good game,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “He was huge to start the second half.”
Grant has had to mature quickly without Southerland available. In the past four games, he’s averaged 29 minutes, 10 points and 5.5 rebounds. In the three previous Big East games before that, he had only played a combined 24 minutes.
» Related: Syracuse will return to Philly in March
He would’ve played even more on Saturday, but Grant fouled with just over five minutes left, after he got caught in the air on a pump fake from Darrun Hilliard.
“I wish I would’ve had that back,” Grant said. “He got me up in the air and leaned into me.”
It was Syracuse’s first loss without Southerland.
“Everybody loses. It’s a tough game to lose, but we’ve only lost two games so far,” Grant said. “Most people lost a lot more than this.”
For more Syracuse coverage, Like our Facebook page and follow us @TheJuiceOnline.