Syracuse's first game of their final Big East Tournament was a high. The Orange made six of nine three-point attempts in the first half of their second round match with the Seton Hall Pirates. Southerland accounted for five of those six made deep shots, making five of seven in the opening half.
When asked how the energy of the Orange changes when they make shots early on, Southerland responded, "It always changes. It's always great when we hit a shot. We go on defense ready, everyone looks great. I mean, sometimes we'll go out there and don't get into a good start. Our defense is kinda sluggish, but we definitely picked that up [versus Seton Hall]. We just stayed focused, and when we stay focused, start hitting shots, then basketball just becomes fun."
The senior forward would finish 6-for-9 from distance, and 7-for-11 overall (63.6%).
As a team, Syracuse made nine of 15 from long range (60%), and 27 of 48 overall (56.3%).
But the Orange were not the only team in the contest shooting well. The Pirates made 50% of their three-point tries in both the opening half (6-for-12) and latter half (4-for-8).
Overall, Seton Hall made 21 of 41 attempts to also finish above 50%, at 51.2%.
"Seton Hall did a tremendous job of shooting," Southerland remarked. "I think this is the best shooting I've seen all year. But, at the same time, we stayed with it, stayed focused, and when opportunities came to us, we knocked down shots."
In the previous match, Southerland went 0-for-3 from long range, 0-for-8 overall, against the Georgetown Hoyas. Sharing whether or not his performance takes the monkey off of his back, Southerland said, "Yeah, I feel comfortable, but most importantly, we feel comfortable as a team. We're looking to playing Pittsburgh. They're a physical team, and we're just gonna bring it."
Knowing that without a win versus Pittsburgh there is no moving on, Southerland responded to if single-elimination for him and fellow senior, guard Brandon Triche, means more now in their final season with the Orange. "Definitely," he said. "It makes us fight a lot harder. And just go out there being leaders."
"Everyone on this team's a leader," Southerland added, "from me to Brandon to C.J. [Fair] and to Mike [Carter-Williams]."
Southerland originally stated at the beginning of the season that the toughest person on him, in a positive way, is his father. With an opportunity to help lead Syracuse further in the Big East Conference Tournament and to wins as well in the NCAA Tournament, Southerland's father, James Southerland, Jr., had some words for him. "Just go out there, stay focused, make sure everything looks good," Southerland shared from what his father told him, "and just have fun."