After a lethargic performance in which they found themselves trailing 40-39 early in the second half, Syracuse used an impressive 28-3 run to break open their game against High Point on Friday night, keeping the Orange perfect for the year with a 75-54 win. Trevor Cooney‘s hot shooting and some athletic plays from C.J. Fair and Tyler Ennis helped blow the game wide open.
It was hardly a pretty win for the Orange, as they struggled with the Panthers for the first 25 minutes and actually found themselves trailing 40-39 with just over 16 minutes remaining. That’s when Ennis had a big sequence when he scored a driving layup and then stole the ensuing inbound pass to get another bucket. Then Cooney drilled a big three to make it a 10-point game, and Syracuse never looked back.
That sequence kicked off an incredible 28-3 run, and Syracuse could have kept that going even longer if Jim Boeheim had decided to keep his starters in the game rather than putting in some of his freshmen who don’t normally get much run. The last 15 minutes should make Syracuse fans feel a lot better as they showed how the second ranked team in the nation is supposed to play a grossly overmatched team like High Point. But those first 25 minutes were so sluggish that the Orange faithful still have to be a little concerned as No. 8 Villanova heads to the Carrier Dome next weekend.
One of the big keys to the game was Cooney breaking out of a mini-slump, dropping 5-of-6 threes on his way to 17 points. Ennis also had a quiet but extremely effective all-around game, just missing a double-double with 10 points and nine dimes. Fair struggled in the first half, but an emphatic dunk on the baseline got him jump started in the second half as he finished with 15.
Something to keep an eye on if you are a Syracuse fan, however, was a scary moment when Jerami Grant went down with an ankle injury midway through the second half. He collapsed in pain on the sideline before finally getting taken to the locker room after a stop in the action. Early reports are that it is just a minor sprain, but any lingering effects could have a big impact on the forward whose game is all about his athleticism and explosiveness. He returned to the bench after about 10 minutes in the locker room but would not return to the game.
The biggest test so far this season comes on December 28 when Nova comes calling as Ennis will lead his team against his older brother Dylan‘s Wildcats. That will be the game that lets people know if this Syracuse team is really worthy of being in the running for the top spot in the top 25 or is still a work in progress.