Recap: Syracuse vs. Notre Dame
Syracuse, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Trevor Cooney made sure Syracuse wouldn't have a letdown, as the sharpshooter poured in a career-high 33 points behind nine 3-pointers to carry the top-ranked Orange past the upset-minded Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 61-55, on Monday.
A Carrier Dome record crowd of 35,446 was ear-piercingly electric for Saturday's showdown against Duke, an instant classic won by Syracuse in overtime that vaulted the Orange to a unanimous No. 1 ranking this week.
Two days later, the arena was quiet as a mouse as Notre Dame cut a 13-point halftime deficit down to three coming down the stretch.
Cooney, though, scored six points during an 8-1 run that restored the double- digit lead, and the Orange (22-0, 9-0 ACC) held on to continue their best start in school history.
"There is always going to be some let up after you play a game like Saturday," reasoned Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. "But we got through it and we'll be able to get a couple days of rest in and I think that will be good for us."
Syracuse won despite rare off-nights from C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant, who were both coming off career-best performances against Duke but combined for just 15 points on 5-of-21 shooting on Monday.
Fair made sure to give Cooney full credit following the game.
"Trevor saved the game for us," said Fair, who shot 2-for-13 from the field. "I had a bad game, but we got the win so I'm happy."
Garrick Sherman and Steve Vasturia led Notre Dame (12-11, 3-7) with 16 and 13 points, respectively.
Notre Dame shot 7-of-23 (30.4 percent) from the field and committed eight turnovers in the first half, but scored on six of its first seven possessions out of the break to pull within 38-32 on an Eric Atkins 3-pointer.
Tom Knight's dunk brought the Irish within 43-40, and it stayed that way until Grant battled for a bucket in the lane with 6 1/2 minutes to play.
After Sherman went 1-of-2 at the foul line, Cooney finally got the crowd excited with another 3-pointer and a bucket inside while being fouled. The free throw gave Syracuse a 51-41 advantage with five minutes remaining, and Grant answered five straight Notre Dame points by scoring inside again with 1:28 on the clock.
Atkins had a chance in the final minute to make it a one-possession game but missed a runner in the lane, and Syracuse avoided the upset.
With the Orange offense sleep-walking through the motions early on, Cooney woke up his teammates with three consecutive long 3-pointers, igniting a 13-0 run that gave Syracuse a 22-12 lead with five minutes to go before halftime.
Cooney added a baseline jumper and Fair got a leaner to fall during a Notre Dame scoreless drought that lasted over seven minutes, and the Orange took a 31-18 cushion into the break following another deep Cooney trifecta.Game Notes
Cooney finished 11-of-15 from the field and 9-of-12 from the perimeter ...
Fair and Grant scored 28 and 24 points, respectively, against Duke ...
Syracuse only attempted 13 free throws ... The Orange are the first unanimous
No. 1 selection since Duke from Dec. 27, 2010 to Jan. 9, 2011 ... Notre Dame
knocked off Syracuse the last time Syracuse was No. 1, doing so on Jan. 21,
2012 in South Bend, IN ... Syracuse leads the all-time series with its former
Big East rival, 26-19.