In what has become a trend this season when playing lesser opponents, the Syracuse Orange got off to a slow start against High Point on Friday night. But also becoming a trend this season is sophomore shooting guard Trevor Cooney saving the Orange from their sluggish starts with great outside shooting. Cooney did so in the season opener against Cornell, and he did it again against High Point.
Syracuse put forth a disappointing effort for much of the game. They had a significant height advantage over the Panthers, but were barely able to outrebound them and struggled to score inside even when they made it a point to throw the ball inside to their big men. The Orange were also a bit lazy on defense, allowing High Point to shoot 40 percent from three-point range which kept them in the game longer than expected.
Fortunately for the Orange, Cooney scored 17 points on just seven shots, making five of his six shots from deep. Cooney did most of his damage in the first half, and that’s when the Orange needed him the most or else they might have found themselves trailing at halftime.
Not only did Syracuse need a game like this from Cooney, but Cooney needed a game like this after going scoreless in the Orange’s last game against the St. John’s Red Storm. Cooney didn’t play poorly against St. John’s, but because he’s shooting 46 percent from beyond the arc teams are guarding him tight and not allowing him to get clean looks — which can be frustrating, even if it’s not his fault that he’s not scoring.
Of course, Syracuse proved against the Red Storm that they can win without Cooney scoring a single point, but it wasn’t easy. And their game against High Point also would have been more difficult had Cooney not been there to carry the team through their sluggish start.
Syracuse starting games slow against inferior teams isn’t a huge concern because they’ve come to play against quality opponents and won every game they’ve played. But when they do, it’s comforting to have a player like Cooney that will step up and lead the Orange through their sluggish starts to make sure they don’t get tripped up and lose to a team they shouldn’t lose to.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.