Instant Juice: Syracuse 77, St. John’s 58

Syracuse forward James Southerland waits for a free throw
What does the loss of Southerland mean?

A quick take on Syracuse’s 77-58 win over St. John’s before the second largest home crowd (27,169) of the season on a Sunday mid-winter afternoon at the Carrier Dome:

WHAT HAPPENED: In the return of senior forward James Southerland after missing six games due to an academic eligibility issue, the Orange (20-3, 8-2) won their Dome record 37th straight home game and Jim Boeheim recorded his ongoing NCAA record 35th 20-win season in 37 years running the program, defeating a Red Storm team (15-9, 7-5) playing minus head coach Steve Lavin.

Lavin’s 82-year old father Cap died overnight in California, he left Syracuse in mid-morning for New York, and assistant coach Rico Hines filled in running the team.  Southerland, who’s clearance to play was announced a couple of hours before the game, entered with 13:16 to play in the first half to an ovation from the Dome patrons, and had a big smile on his face after he connected on his first field goal, a sweet three-pointer from just in front of the Orange bench at the 16:45 mark of the second half.  Southerland finished with 13 points, 3-of-7 from three-point range.

» What did you think of SU’s performance?

Syracuse forward James Southerland waits for a free throw
James Southerland returned to the SU lineup

ANALYSIS: Up 13 at the half, Syracuse looked uneven as the Red Storm came out of the locker room inspired and cut the lead to five, before James Southerland got hot from three-point range and found Brandon Triche for a beautiful no-look, shuffle pass emphatic dunk to stem one Johnnies rally with back-to-back baskets with 10:00 to play.  The Orange had enough offense down the stretch for the final margin.

» Related: Southerland eligible to play

HERO: Mr. Consistent, C.J. Fair.  The fleet junior small forward was scoring inside and out, his athleticism always one step ahead of the SJU defense on route to 17-points, nine rebounds, and two assists.

ZERO: St. John’s shooting.  The Red Storm cooled off from afar finishing 5-of-22 (22%) from beyond the arc against the ‘Cuse zone.

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse will head to the XL Center in downtown Hartford to take on Connecticut for the final time in Big East regular season play on Wed., Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. This game will mark the first non-Jim Boeheim/Jim Calhoun full-time head coach match-up between the schools since 1986.  TV: ESPN.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.