Behind a season-high 28 points from Trevor Cooney, the Syracuse Orange knocked off the Florida State Seminoles 70-57 in their ACC home-opener on Sunday night, improving to 3-0 overall in conference play. But overshadowing the win was the image of an injured Chris McCullough needing to be helped off the court just eight minutes into the game, moments after his knee buckled under the Florida State basket.
Syracuse 70 - Florida State 57: Orange Win Home-Opener Despite Injury To Chris McCullough
Syracuse led wire-to-wire in its win over FSU on Sunday night.
McCullough, who remained on the floor for a few minutes after going down, would head straight to the locker room, where he remained the the rest of the night. A team official said the former five-star recruit would be reevaluated on Monday.
"It's too bad," said head coach Jim Boeheim. "He was playing well in practice...it's unfortunate. But we'll find out tomorrow. We have no idea right now what it is.
At least for tonight, Syracuse wasn't phased by McCullough's injury. Immediately after he went down, the Orange ripped off a 21-8 run -- spearheaded by three Cooney treys -- to grab a 33-16 lead. From there, they didn't look back, as the Seminoles never again got within more than nine points.
Cooney's 28 points were the most he's had in a game since scoring 33 in a win against Notre Dame last February. He finished 7-of-11 from beyond the arc and 9-of-16 overall. Afterwards, he was asked what he did differently tonight following a two game road trip which saw him go 9-of-31 from the field and 6-of-19 from three.
"Nothing. Nothing different at all," he said with a laugh. "They just went in."
Michael Gbinije and Ron Patterson added to the three-point barrage, combining to go 3-of-6 from deep in the win. Syracuse finished shooting 58.8 percent (10-of-17) from distance, a stark contrast to Florida State's 12.5 percent (2-of-16) in the same department.
"We did a really good job the whole game defensively guarding the three-point line and still helping in other places," said Boeheim.
One player who didn't make a three-pointer was Kaleb Joseph, but the point guard did still help pace the Orange offensively. He finished with seven assists and only one turnover, and now has 24 assists to just six turnovers in the last five games.
"I think every game is a little bit different," said Joseph, who's had an up-and-down first half of the season. "Some games I'm going to be asked to be a little bit more aggressive and try to score. Games like this, Trevor was hot, so we gotta feed the hot hand...and guys were finishing, so it made my job a lot easier."
Other notables for the Orange included Rakeem Christmas, who had 11 rebounds and five blocks to go along with 14 points, and Gbinije, who scored 11 points in what was the sixth time in seven games he's scored in double figures.
Syracuse, which went into halftime with a 35-22 advantage, was able to fend off two separate Florida State runs in the second half. The Seminoles twice cut the lead to single digits -- at 51-42 and 59-50 -- but SU pulled away both times, sending Leonard Hamilton's team home with its first ACC loss of the season.