The Syracuse University basketball team had to do it without James Southerland off the bench, but beat Villanova 72-61 on Saturday in what head coach Jim Boeheim called one of the great wins over the last few years.
"Of all our wins in the last couple years, this was the grittiest, toughest performance I think we've had," said Boeheim, "everybody just dug in there defensively. We couldn't get anything going offensively, which we haven't been able to the last couple games."
"I was just telling a couple of teammates that this was the biggest win for me in the past four years that I've been here," said senior Brandon Triche, who ran into foul trouble in the second half, but finished with 10 points, "Everybody stepped up."
C.J. Fair had 22 points and Trevor Cooney hit back to back 3-pointers late in the second half to help Syracuse win their 34th straight game at the Carrier Dome.
James Southerland sat on the bench in street cloths, out indefinitely because of an eligibility matter. The senior is Syracuse's second-leading scorer, averaging 13.6 points per game off the bench.
Jim Boeheim said he could not give any details on why Southerland can't play, and the players say they'll simply prepare to play without him until he comes back.
"When you lose a guy that can come out and score offensively," said Cooney about Southerland "other guys are going to have to come out and step up. I think Jerami (Grant), DaJuan (Coleman) and I did a good job of that and trying to add spark to the team like James does."
"James stretches the floor a lot and draws the defense to him," said Fair, "which helps a lot of other players. When he's not in there the defense tries to force us to shoot three's and when we try and drive, they pack it in tight. We did miss him out there."
Jerami Grant filled Southerland's shoes as the sixth man on Saturday with career-high 13 and 5 rebounds.