History was already against the St. John’s College Red Storm men’s basketball team, which had lost 13 of its previous 14 games against Syracuse University.
Throw in James Southerland’s emotional return for Syracuse and the fact that St. John’s University coach Steve Lavin was 3,000 miles away, and the odds were stacked against St. John’s Sunday afternoon at the Carrier Dome.
C.J. Fair scored 17 points; Brandon Triche added 16 and Southerland 13 points as the trio combined for 46 points as the No. 9 Orange led from start point to end point in a 77-58 romp over St. John’s in a big East Conference game before 27,169 fans, the 2nd biggest crowd of the season at the Dome.
Michael Carter-Williams added 17 points, 8 assists and 6 steals for the Orange.
Southerland, who returned after missing 6 games as a result of an academic issue, scored 13 points in 26 minutes. He’s Syracuse’s best outside shooter and he ranked 2nd on the team in scoring at 13.6 points per game when he was ruled ineligible Jan. 12.
St. John’s also played without senior point guard Jamal Branch, who has missed the last 2 games with a twisted MCL in his left knee. While Branch’s replacement, Phil Greene, leads the team in helps, he’s a natural off-guard and the Red Storm has played better with Branch at the point.
In defeating St. John’s for the 8th consecutive game, Syracuse improved to 20-3 and 8-2 in the Big East. The Syracuse Orange is tied with Marquette for first place in the conference.
Syracuse also extended its Carrier Dome home winning run to 37, the longest in the nation and a school record. The Orange has now recorded at least 20 wins for 16 consecutive seasons, and Coach Jim Boeheim has led the Orange to at least 20 wins in 35 of his 37 years.
The Red Storm, which had won 6 of its prior 7 games, fell to 15-9 overall and 7-5 in the Big East. St. John’s dropped into seventh place in Big East behind Syracuse Orange, Marquette Golden Eagles, Georgetown Hoyas (7-3), Pittsburgh Panthers (8-4), Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-4) and Louisville (7-4). NFL spreads
Freshman forward JaKarr Sampson, the leading candidate for Big East Rookie of the Year, led the Red Storm with 21 points. St. John’s sophomore guard D’Angelo Harrison, who joined the game as the Big East’s 2nd-leading scorer (18.5 ppg), added 13.
Southerland was declared unsuited before Syracuse’s game against Villanova January 12. He had an appeal before a Syracuse University hearings panel on Friday, but the panel’s call wasn’t announced until Sunday.
Southerland had been practicing with the team, which went 4-2 without him after beginning 15-1 with him. The Orange averaged 79.4 points per game before Southerland was ruled unsuited and 64.7 points per game with him on the sidelines.
Leading 10-8, Syracuse Orange went on a 19-6 run to build a 29-14 advantage. Fair and Triche each hit a couple of 3-pointers and had 10 points in the 1st half, with Triche’s 3-pointer at the end of the half giving the Syracuse a 37-24 lead at intermission.