Trevor Cooney's season-high 28 points helped the Syracuse Orange faithful avoid sitting through another heart-stopping finish Sunday, as he propelled SU to an smooth-sailing, 70-57, victory against the visiting Florida State Seminoles in an ACC showdown at the Carrier Dome.
Cooney made seven 3-pointers in his impressive showing, including two big ones that came late in the contest. His first long-distance make moved SU's dwindling lead from nine points to 12 points with 5:01 remaining in regulation. His last three was a dagger with 3:14 to go that pushed the Orange's lead to a insurmountable 67-52 advantage.
Cooney finished 7-for-11 from behind the 3-point arc, 9-for-16 from the floor, with two assists and three steals. Senior center Rakeem Christmas continued his inside dominance against ACC big men tallying another double-double–14 points and 11 rebounds–with six blocks.
Also chipping in was junior swingman Michael Gbinije, who finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while freshman point guard Kaleb Joseph played, possibly, his best game in conference play netting seven points, snagging two steals and committing just one turnover.
Chirstmas did get into some foul trouble with eight minutes remaining and FSU made a small run to cut SU's lead to single digits, but Cooney's hot shooting helped the Orange keep their steady lead.
FSU was paced by Xavier Rathan-Mayes' 14 points. Teammate Boris Bojanovsky was the only other Seminole player to score in double digits, as he netted 10 points.
Overall, FSU was hampered by poor 3-point shooting (2-for-16) and turnovers (13). Meanwhile, the Orange made their shots from behind the 3-point arc (10-for-17), committed just eight turnovers and outrebounded FSU, 39-35.
The discouraging news about the victory was the loss of freshman forward Chris McCullough, who left the game near the midway point of the first half and did not return. According to Syracuse.com, his injury (which looked like a tweak to the knee) will be evaluated on Monday. Here's a look at what happened:
Despite the loss of another big man, SU was able to play well on offense. However, if McCullough is out for a long time it would be a huge hit to the Orange's talent and roster depth, which is already set at a seven-man rotation.
(Note: Sophomore center Chinonso Obokoh did play in the second half, but it did not go well as he committed three fouls in less than two minutes. Jim Boeheim was forced to quickly put Christmas back into the game, even though, he had four fouls.)
Share you thoughts on the victory below. Orange host the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Tuesday (8 p.m.) before closing traveling to the Clemson Tigers on Saturday (4 p.m.).