#1 Syracuse Orange 61 - Notre Dame Fighting Irish 55
In a two day turnaround after epic weekend battles, the Syracuse Orange were able to hold off Notre Dame behind a career night by Trevor Cooney. Syracuse led for almost the whole game, but Notre Dame fought back to come within 3 points with less than 8 minutes left.
In their first game with a number 1 bulls-eye on their back, the Orange were able to fight off a Notre Dame team that has a history of knocking off undefeated #1 teams (Although, never in true road games). On Monday afternoon, Syracuse was voted as the first unanimous #1 team in the nation in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches poll since Duke in 2010-11, and Monday night they moved to 22-0.
*The Man of Many Names*
Trevor Cooney has been a mysterious man this season, but has a tendency to show up when needed. He delivered tonight, scoring a career high 33 points on a SU record-tying 9 three pointers on a night when no other Orange player reached double digits. At the end of the first half, Cooney had 17 points and Notre Dame only had 18. This was Trevor's game to shine, canning long distance shots all game, from all over the court. Seriously, Cooney was good, adding 4 steals and an And-One back-cut late in the game to help seal it.
Jerami Grant was able to play Robin to Cooney's Batman with 9 points, 4 rebounds and a block. More importantly, Grant provided the Orange with a consistent inside threat, even if he wasn't able to put up his usual stat line. Tyler Ennis also helped by chipping in 8 assists, 2 steals and 6 points. While Ennis distributed the ball well, he lacked the usual spark that he uses to power Syracuse through rough patches this season.
This was the definition of a trap game. Syracuse was coming off the biggest win of the season on two days rest to play a Notre Dame team that is struggling at times this year. Unfortunately, the Orange almost got squeezed by the trap. C.J. Fair played his "worst game all season" per Jim Boeheim, with 6 points and 5 rebounds on 2-13 shooting. Fair's jumpshot was off all night, and he had trouble putting the ball on the ground, finishing with as many turnovers as assists.
The big men were also feeling the pain, with Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita combining fo 2 points and 8 rebounds. Christmas fouled out with two minutes remaining, and Keita continues to look lost on offense. The bench was shortened considerably, with Tyler Roberson and Michael Gbinije each getting their token 5 minutes. The good news is both Freshie-T and Silent G were able to impact the game, Roberson with a sweet catch-and-shoot jumpshot and Gbinije with timely three pointer. It's only a matter of time before these two start to earn more regular playing time.
It felt good to escape at least one game with the #1 ranking intact, especially against the pesky Notre Dame team that put up a fight behind 16 points from former MSU Spartan Garrick Sherman and 13 from Steve Vasturia. If Jerami's brother Jerian Grant hadn't been kicked off the team due to academics, this might have been a different game.
Mike Brey said Notre Dame needed to make 10 three pointers to win this game. They made 6-18 (33%).
Cooney's 33 points and 9 three pointers were both the most since James Southerland put up 35 and 9 @ Arkansas last year.
We had great officiating tonight, after some adventures on Saturday. There was also a very lively crowd of 25,000 that pushed the Orange all night. It was like seeing who still comes to church after Easter.
Special shout-out to Mark Park's cohost on IMG Sports Radio (Points for whomever can get me a name!), who called Cooney getting hot today. Specifically he bet "Cooney would hit at least 5 threes today, maybe as many as 8 if he gets hot" was said before Cooney shot the ball. Well done.
Syracuse rounds out the three game home stand on Sunday vs Clemson, before visiting Pitt at the Pete next Wednesday. Until then, enjoy yet another game undefeated, and the first taste of supremacy. LET'S! GO! S! U!