James Southerland

James Southerland, Syracuse holds on against Arkansas

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James Southerland tied a Syracuse school record, with nine 3-pointers, en route to a career-high 35 points off the bench, leading the No. 6 Orange over Arkansas 91-82 as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge.

Southerland had 28 points, including eight 3-pointers, when he picked up his fourth foul with 15 minutes remaining, with the Orange holding a 57-47 lead. The Razorbacks would get within five, before Triche, the other Cuse senior took over. The senior guard scored 10 straight Orange points, bumping the lead up to 13.

B.J. Young ended with 25 points for Arkansas. The Razorbacks are at .500 with a 3-3 record.

Syracuse is 5-0, asking the question: how good is Syracuse this season?

Indiana and Duke have headlined college basketball’s first month. Indiana outlasted the long, Georgetown zone and ran North Carolina off the floor earlier this week. In the meantime, the Blue Devils made it a habit running top-5 teams off the floor – Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State – to go along with wins over Minnesota and VCU.

Michigan, Louisville, Kansans, Florida, and Gonzaga are just a few of the teams that have also had impressive first months and will be around come March.

Syracuse is clearly in the mix with one of the more talented rosters in the country. Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche should be considered as good as any backcourt, especially on the defensive end when 6-foot-6 Carter-Williams and 6-foot-4 Triche can make it difficult for shooters (5-of-24 from behind the arc for Arkansas). With C.J. Fair, Dajuan Coleman, Rakeem Christmas, James Southerland, and Bay Moussa Keita, Cuse also feature big bodies at the bottom of the zone.

More importantly, Cuse showed how balanced it can be in Friday’s win over Arkansas. Four players in double figures and had players step up when needed to. When Southerland went down with his fourth foul, Triche and Fair both made big plays to keep Arkansas from climbing back into the game.

The Orange struggled with the Razorbacks’ pressure, coughed the ball up 19 times and still was able to win on the road. And that will the last time Syracuse is on the road this calendar year. The Orange have nine-straight home games before a Jan. 6 matchup at South Florida.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

UConn commit tears ACL for second time

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UConn commit Juwan Durham, a four-star big man in the Class of 2016, has torn the ACL in his right knee for the second time in seven months. The Florida native committed to the Huskies and head coach Kevin Ollie back in September. The 6-foot-9 forward is regarded as the No. 31 overall prospect in the national Class of 2016, so he can really be a force when he’s healthy.

In a report from Tampabay.com’s Bob Putnam, UConn was notified of the injury immediately and there is no change in plans with the commitment. The Huskies also own commitments from four-star point guard Alterique Gilbert and three-star power forward Mamadou Diarra in the Class of 2016. Having Diarra, an active, rim-protecting presence, helps with Durham’s recovery, since he can provide some more front court depth.

If Durham rehabs back to full speed, UConn has a very talented power forward who was just hitting his stride in the Florida state playoffs last February. UConn has a nice class so far with this group, especially if Durham can recover, With a year to recover until next season, Durham can hopefully play during his freshman season in 2016.

VIDEO: Arizona State’s Torian Graham dunks over teammate

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Arizona State fans won’t get a chance to see Torian Graham take the floor this season, but he did sky over fellow teammates (and transfer) Shannon Evans on Friday night at the team’s Maroon and Gold Madness. The 6-foot-4 Graham is a former Buffalo commit — Evans also came from Buffalo — and both players will have to sit out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer regulations.

Graham hasn’t had a chance to get into a Division I game, but he’ll be able to play for the Sun Devils next season. For now, fans can look forward to Graham’s athleticism on the wing in pregame dunk routines.

A former top-100 prospect, Graham also pulled off this ridiculous move in the dunk contest.