The last regular-season image of Syracuse men’s basketball’s 34-year Big East odyssey was a sad and forlorn one, as least as far as Orange partisans were concerned.
SU’s 61-39 drubbing at the hands of Georgetown last Saturday at the Verizon Center, the team’s fourth loss in five games, marked the lowest point total for the Orange in more than half a century.
So rather than have a lift in emotions and revenge for the defeat it took to Georgetown in front of a record Carrier Dome crowd on Feb. 23, SU was, instead, in its worst shape of the season heading into its last Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, with Jim Boeheim wistfully talking about going somewhere golfing.
The only break in SU’s gloomy late-season slide came last Wednesday, in the regular-season home finale against cellar-dwelling DePaul.
That was a tale of two different halves. It was a competitive first half, but in the second half SU took over, producing a 30-7 run over an 8:25 span which led to a 78-57 blowout of the Blue Demons.
The Orange overcame yet another woeful shooting performance (two-for-18 beyond the 3-point arc).The senior tandem of James Southerland, and Brandon Triche, combined with balanced scoring, carried SU to victory.
Southerland scored 22 points and Triche added 15 points. In addition, Southerland notched his first double-double of the season grabbing a career-high 10 rebounds, but it was far from a masterpiece.
He struggled from the field going five-for-19 and one-for-10 on 3 pointers. Those shooting numberss were offset, though, as Southerland was unblemished at the free throw line in just his third career start.
“If we turn our offense around, we will probably win by 20 points,” Triche said. “But if it's this bad, we will be in every game and be ahead by only a few points. That tells you what type of team we have.