The Syracuse Orange exited the weekend with an exciting overtime win against the Duke Blue Devils and the unanimous number one ranking in all of college basketball. The biggest concern after a huge win like that is coming into the next game with a “basketball hangover” and letting one slip to a team you ought to beat. That is exactly what almost happened Monday night as Syracuse edged out fellow ACC foes, Notre Dame.
The Orange will hang on to their deserved number one ranking, at least for a while longer, much to the thanks of sophomore Trevor Cooney. The young guard set a career high in points, scoring an astounding 33 points while nailing nine three pointers. On Monday night, it did not matter from where Cooney took a shot; he was going to drain it. Further, Cooney’s threes came early and often and continued late into the game, when his team needed points the most.
If you take away Cooney’s hot hand which went 11 for 15 on the night from the field, the Orange shot a measly 10 for 32, or, 31%. Besides relying on Cooney for over half of their 61 points, Syracuse got out-rebounded on both ends of the floor by the Irish. If you throw in the fact that their star center, Rakeem Christmas, fouled out late in the game with his team only up by six points, Syracuse clearly came into the game with a lack of focus.
The Orange’s saving grace was Cooney’s intense focus which zoomed in on the hoop and stretched it out to look like a plastic kiddie pool. This kind of game worked out for the Orange thanks to a great individual performance, but Jim Boeheim’s squad will need to straighten up and refocus before their rematch with Duke, and eventually, their run in the NCAA Tournament.