The Syracuse Orange didn't have much gas left in the tank after its scintillating overtime win over Duke on Saturday, but what Syracuse did have was Trevor Cooney. With the rest of Syracuse's offense running on fumes, Cooney was clicking on all cylinders as the Orange put its new No. 1 ranking on the line against Notre Dame on Monday night at the Carrier Dome. Cooney scored a career-high 33 points to lead Syracuse to a 61-55 victory over a stubborn Notre Dame squad in front of 25,850 at the Dome. Cooney made 11 of his 15 shots from the field, including nine of 12 shots from 3-point range. The rest of the Orange players made just 10 of 32 field-goal attempts. "Fortunately, Trevor must have got the message early that they were not going to play well and score,'' Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "He had to make shots.'' While his teammates seemed mired in a post-Duke malaise, Cooney made shots from opening tip to final buzzer. He was 5-for-7 from 3-point range in the first half and 4-of-5 in the second. Cooney's nine 3-pointers tied the Syracuse record, which he now shares with James Southerland, Andy Rautins and Gerry McNamara. "When I hit like the third or fourth, I definitely felt something,'' said Cooney, who apparently was the last of the 25,000-plus in the Dome to figure out that he had the hot hand. "The one going into halftime, I was definitely into a good groove now. Then I came out of halftime and I missed my first one, but I stayed with it and continued to shoot and was able to get going again.'' Syracuse, which improved to 22-0 on the season, tied the 1980-81 Virginia team for the third-longest season-opening win streak in Atlantic Coast Conference history. Syracuse remains in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 9-0 league record. Syracuse had assumed the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press poll earlier in the day on Monday. It was the first time Syracuse had been ranked No. 1 since the 2011-12 season. Coincidentally, perhaps, Notre Dame had toppled Syracuse from its No. 1 ranking and ended the Orange's 20-0 start to the 2012 season with a 68-57 win in South Bend, Ind. If not for Cooney, the Irish might have done it again. "It's kind of hard to absorb nine of them from that guy,'' Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "He was just in one of those zones. We just couldn't do a good enough job on Cooney." Cooney's 33 points were the most for a Syracuse player since James Southerland scored 35 against Arkansas last season. Cooney's 33-point effort is not among the top 20 scoring games in Syracuse history, but it still reached historical proportions. Most of the top individual scoring games in Syracuse have come in high-scoring affairs. Not so on Monday. Cooney was the only Syracuse player in double-figures. Cooney represented 54 percent of Syracuse's offense. That's the highest percentage of the team's total offense for any Syracuse player since 1950. Gerry McNamara had 53.7 percent of SU's offense when he scored 43 points in an 80-75 win over BYU in the 2004 NCAA Tournament. "He was on a different level tonight,'' McNamara said. "More importantly than the nine threes was that every one of them meant something. We struggled a little bit offensively and Trev was the guy that put us up on his shoulders and carried us. "It was the entire 40 minutes,'' McNamara continued. "He was there and every shot was important.'' C.J. Fair, who scored a career-high 28 points in Syracuse's 91-89 overtime win over Duke on Saturday, struggled against Notre Dame. Fair was just 2-for-13 from the field on Monday, finishing with a season-low six points. It was just the second time this season that Fair scored less than 10 points. He had seven against St. Francis on Nov. 18. "You've got to make some shots against them and we were not shooting the ball well with one exception,'' said Boeheim. "Fortunately, that was enough tonight.'' Cooney scored 17 of his points in the first half to give Syracuse a 31-18 lead. After 20 minutes, it was Notre Dame 18, Cooney 17 and the rest of the SU players 14. "In the first half, neither team could score except for Trevor,'' Boeheim said. "It was his half. He kept us to where we had the lead.''
Cooney scores career-high 33 points, leads Orange past Notre Dame
Syracuse.com | Feb 4