Southerland, who missed six games due to an unspecified academic issue, won his appeal to return to the court and provided 13 points. Southerland did not connect on any of his four first-half attempts, but he was solid in the second half, hitting three of his five three-point shots and giving Syracuse the boost it has been missing from the bench in his absence.
St. John’s, playing without its head coach, Steve Lavin, whose father passed away overnight, took its marching orders from assistant coach Rico Hines.
Hines’ squad played from behind the entire game but managed to pull within five points at 48-43 with 11:46 left in the second half after trailing by 12 points just two minutes prior.
A 10-2 run by Syracuse, capped off by back-to-back triples by Southerland, helped the No. 9 Orange (now No. 6) pull away for the 19-point victory.
Syracuse (20-3, 8-2 Big East) has eight games left in the regular season and is looking to make a run at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Southerland coming back is just one of the catalysts that could help that happen.
Other notable factors, including improved play my Michael Carter-Williams and high-percentage shooting across the board, contributed to the Orange victory.
However, some other areas of the Orange game were causes for concern.
Let’s take a look at what we learned from the win against St. John’s.