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"Fortunately, We Had Trevor" - Cooney's Career Night Carries #1 Syracuse Past Notre Dame

After Saturday night’s epic win over Duke, the newly-minted #1 Syracuse Orange took to the Carrier Dome floor for an ESPN Big Monday tilt with former Big East brethren Notre Dame.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
It was the very definition of a potential letdown game. On a night where the SU offense sputtered, one man (or several, depending on who you ask) saved the day and led his team to victory in record-tying fashion.

Here is my report card from the 22-0 Orange’s 61-55 victory over the Fighting Irish:

Head of the Class

Trevor Cooney: I know, I know. No shit. Cooney was molten hot, hitting a school record-tying 9 three-pointers on his way to a career-best 33 points in 39 minutes of action. You could see the confidence in his eyes on every cut and curl he made, and there were several instances where he was coiled and ready to let the ball fly before he even caught it. He outscored the rest of his teammates 33-28, and without his timely hot streak the Orange may have been in serious trouble.

“I just wanted to keep moving,” Cooney said when asked about his ability to get so many open looks. “I know the ball finds activity.” He added “It definitely felt good coming off the hand, and when you get into a rhythm like that you just want to keep shooting.”

When asked about his 9 triples, Cooney paid homage to his mentor. “I’ve always looked up to Gerry (McNamara, who co-holds the record with James Southerland and Andy Rautins), and continue to do so. To tie a record like that is special.”

Passing Grades

Jerami Grant: I’ll be honest and say I was going to leave this section blank. The rest of the team definitely was in an offensive funk after playing so well on Saturday. But I’ll give a small nod to Grant, who fought through a tough shooting night to finish with 9 points, in addition to 4 rebounds. He went 3-4 from the free throw line, and had a couple of nice moves down low in the second half when the Orange really needed a bucket. He also had two more highlight reel-worthy plays, a scintillating block of a Garrick Sherman layup attempt in the second half and a very cool alley-oop dunk on a lob from Tyler Ennis that all the kids love these days.

Stay After School

Everyone Else: Man, that was rough. I mean, it isn’t easy to bounce back after such a physically and emotionally draining game, but aside from Cooney the rest of the team just didn’t have it. It’s a testament to their #Hardnosedness that they were able to scratch out a win against an opponent that clearly knows how to play them. No argument there. But if you subtract Cooney’s shooting binge the Orange managed a mere 10-32 from the floor and were beaten in several ‘hustle’ stats like rebounds (33-28), points in the paint (22-16), and second chance points (12-8).

“Today was kind of ugly for us offensively. Well, not for Trevor.” said ACC Player of the Week C.J. Fair, who had only 6 points (2-13 from the field) after putting up a career-high 28 vs. Duke. “There are going to be games like that. We just have to fight through it.“

Fair added “I knew this was going to be a tough game if we didn’t start off hot. Fortunately, we had Trevor.”

Final Grade: A+ for Cooney, C- for everyone else

Let’s not dwell on this. Like I said, SU fans should be happy with the win. Enjoy the #1 ranking for a few days, and gear up for Clemson’s arrival in the Dome on Sunday night. Remember, there’s a certain recent football beating that needs to be avenged…

Trevor Cooney speaks to the media following the game Monday night.

For a more detailed recap and commentary on the game and Jim Boeheim’s postgame news conference, visit my Twitter feed by clicking here.