James Southerland enjoys shooting the basketball. He just settles into amnesia mode and keeps on chucking.
Southerland broke out of a mini-slump with 21 points and Brandon Triche had 19 to lead No. 4 Syracuse over Canisius 85-61 on Saturday night in the Gotham Classic.
Southerland, who had gone 0 for 10 on 3-pointers in three games since hitting 9 of 13 to key a win at Arkansas, missed his first from long range against the Golden Griffins then hit 3 of 5 from behind the arc.
"You can’t worry about the shots you missed, especially when your team needs you to make another shot. You can’t take back the miss you had," said Southerland, who was 9 of 14 overall in 32 minutes off the bench. "Everyone gets going after hitting a couple of shots. You gotta feed the hot hand. I kind of forget about all the shots. I forgot about the ones I made."
Michael Carter-Williams added 12 points and 14 assists, his fourth consecutive double-double, and boosted his season assist total to 97 as Syracuse (9-0) extended its home winning streak to 29 games, the longest in the nation. The win moved head coach Jim Boeheim within one victory of 900. Mike Krzyzewski (936) and Bob Knight (902) are the only Division I men’s coaches to reach that milestone.
Boeheim, in his 37th season at his alma mater, was not interested in dwelling on it.
"This team does not care about how many wins I have," Boeheim said. "They care about getting the next win. That’s it. Everything else does not matter. It really doesn’t. I’m happy I’m still here."
The Orange’s next game is at home against Detroit on Monday night.
Canisius (6-2) was off to its best start since 1973-74 and riding a three-game winning streak on the road. The Golden Griffins haven’t beaten a ranked team since a 72-69 win over No. 13 Cincinnati in December 1994.
Billy Baron and Isaac Sosa each scored 15 points to lead Canisius, which outrebounded Syracuse 37-34, the first team to do so this season, and hit 12 of 30 (40 percent) from behind the arc.
Harold Washington, the team’s leading scorer at 18.6 points per game, finished with nine, going just 1 of 6 from beyond the arc a week after hitting a career-high six in a 94-82 win at Marist. Alshwan Hymes, who played ball with the Orange’s Triche at Jamesville-DeWitt High School in suburban Syracuse, sat the first half for violating team rules and finished with six points.
Syracuse fell behind late in the first half, regrouped and took a three-point lead into halftime, then started the second half with a 15-3 spurt to take control.
A 3-pointer by Southerland, who started the second period, completed an 11-0 run spanning halftime and gave Syracuse a 41-32 lead with 18:36 left. The Orange led only 35-32 at the break and broke loose with 50 points in the second half, shooting 21 of 34 (61.8 percent).
"We did a great job the first half rebounding the basketball, getting second and third shots," Canisius coach Jim Baron said. "Even though we didn’t shoot the ball well, I thought it really kept us in the game. You’ve got to hit shots to knock them out of that zone. We didn’t hit enough shots. We fell short, and they just stayed in it and stayed in it and stayed in it.
"It was like going to the dentist’s office. They’re a good team."
The Griffs had four turnovers in the first six minutes of the second half, and the Orange capitalized. Rakeem Christmas hit a jumper from the foul line, Southerland converted an alley-oop dunk from Triche, C.J. Fair hit off the glass, and Carter-Williams passed to Triche for a 3 from the wing to give Syracuse a 50-35 lead with 14:45 to go.
Canisius was within 69-57 after Sosa’s 3 with 4:17 left, but Carter-Williams fed Christmas for a dunk and Southerland scored five straight points.
"We just started off slow," Carter-Williams said. "We needed to pick it up and I think that’s what we did in the second half. We started to play our game instead of falling into theirs."
Canisius fell behind by as many as nine in what was a tight first half. The Griffs trailed 23-14 after Carter-Williams swished a 3 from the top of the key, but they stayed patient, working the clock and searching for the open man, and slowly came back.
Washington hit consecutive layups and Sosa nailed a 3-pointer to thwart the Orange’s press and move the Griffs within 30-26 with 5:32 left.
After Syracuse missed in close and from beyond the arc, Jordan Heath and brother Josiah powered Canisius into the lead. Jordan swished a 3 from the wing and Josiah converted a three-point play on consecutive trips down court to give the Griffs a 32-30 lead with 2:24 to go.
Two free throws by Carter-Williams and Triche’s layup at the buzzer gave the Orange a 35-32 halftime lead.
"We fought back. We made some huge shots," Sosa said. "We had so many defensive breakdowns in the second half. If we would have made some shots and kept our defense tight, it would have been a different game."
The Gotham Classic also includes Temple, Detroit and Alcorn State. The format features 10 games with all teams facing each other once. Syracuse and Temple will meet in the feature game at noon on Dec. 22 at Madison Square Garden.