Grant starts in return from injury, shines in Syracuse win

first_img Published on March 9, 2014 at 8:03 pm Contact Trevor: [email protected] | @TrevorHass TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Jerami Grant burst by Michael Ojo on the left side and muscled up a shot. He drew contact and got the layup to stick.Just like that, Grant was back. For the first time since Syracuse’s loss to Duke on Feb. 22, he played nearly the entire game. After missing the second half of SU’s games against Maryland and Virginia and all of the Orange’s loss to Georgia Tech on Tuesday, Grant played 35 minutes Sunday.He scored 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting and gobbled up eight rebounds, returning to the starting lineup and helping guide No. 7 Syracuse (27-4, 14-4 Atlantic Coast) to a 74-58 win over Florida State (18-12, 9-9) at the Donald L. Tucker Center.“We’re a completely different team with Jerami Grant,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “If he wasn’t able to go tonight, we wouldn’t be very happy right now. He’s key to what we do.”After the game, Grant said he felt close to 100 percent. The sore back that’s limited him the past few weeks is almost a nonissue.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textGrant said he and the coaching staff made a collective decision that he would start against FSU after Grant practiced Friday and Saturday. He added that he felt good during and after those practices, and knew he was capable of playing.“It’s definitely hurting a little bit,” Grant said, “but at the same time if I can play through it I’m going to play through it.”Syracuse needed Grant down low against the Seminoles. Both Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Keita picked up four fouls and had to deal with Okaro White inside. When they went to the bench, Grant was there to clog the paint and close out on shooters.Grant was also active offensively. He swooped through the lane to draw an and-one in the second half. Less than two minutes later he put back a Trevor Cooney miss. It wasn’t the kind of ferocious dunk that made him a staple of SportsCenter’s Top 10 early in the year, but it got the job done.“It was good to have Jerami back,” SU guard Trevor Cooney said. “He was his old self today. He was grabbing offensive rebounds and putting them back in and just being Jerami, really. He looked great.”When Syracuse warmed up before the game, Grant participated fully. He sported a pair of vibrant, multicolored kicks and looked completely comfortable.Though that comfort carried over to the actual game for the most part, there were stretches where Grant looked slightly limited.Early in the first half he caused a defender to fall down on a spin move, but then left a layup short when it barely grazed the front rim.Later on, Grant missed a reverse layup among a sea of Florida State defenders. It was far from an easy shot, but one Syracuse fans have grown accustomed to seeing Grant make this season.“He had a little rust,” Boeheim said. “He didn’t get to rebounds a couple times that he would have.”When asked what particular elements of his game were inhibited, Grant said he felt fine.For the most part, he was his old self. Grant’s return paved the way for a superb afternoon from C.J. Fair, as having another weapon in Grant on the floor gave Fair more space to operate and work his mid-range game.Christmas dominated inside, Cooney got open looks outside and Tyler Ennis had another option to look for when he drove to the basket.“I think we are a very different team,” Fair said, “because teams respect him. He’s proven what he can do, and other players are able to make plays.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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