Who had B.J. Johnson scoring more points against Boston College than Rakeem Christmas? The much maligned forward has contributed little since very early in the season. In fact, he had not hit a three-pointer since Syracuse defeated Colgate on December 22nd. That would all change on Wednesday.
With Rakeem Christmas having the worst game of his senior season, finishing with single digit points for just the second time, Johnson picked up the slack by drilling four three-pointers for all of his 12 points. Not only that, he grabbed four rebounds and blocked two shots.
"I think I just took a lot of pressure off my shoulders to make shots," Johnson said. "I've just got to keep doing what I've been doing and try to do it in the next game."
Johnson's playing time has been sporadic to say the least. With the loss of Chris McCullough he is bumped up in the rotation, but generally only plays if Syracuse has foul trouble in the front court or someone is not playing well.
"Coming off the bench, it's about being engaged and watching how the game is developing," Johnson said. "Then when you get in, just be ready."
Seeing Johnson hit some open threes is critical. With him in the game at the four, it makes Syracuse significantly smaller. But when he is making shots, it spreads opposing defenses with him, Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney all on the floor together.
In fairness, Johnson did make only four of his 12 three-point attempts. But even shooting at a 33% clip can help the Orange significantly.
Playing well also means Syracuse can give a few minutes of rest to Tyler Roberson or Michael Gbinije if needed. It was a strong performance on Wednesday, and one that helped Syracuse get back in the win column with the daunting last seven games of the schedule looming, featuring five games against top-10 teams.