College Hoops Player of the Day for Monday, February 3, 2014
On Saturday, Syracuse topped Duke in overtime, keeping their record perfect at 21-0, and, after Arizona lost to Cal, the Orange were unanimously celebrated as the #1 team in the country.
Monday night, the Orange were back to work, hosting Notre Dame, in a quick turnaround at the Carrier Dome. As expected, the Irish slowed down the game, which didn't help Syracuse, evidently suffering somewhat of a letdown after their emotional win over the Blue Devils - all except for three-point specialist, Trevor Cooney, that is.
After a sluggish start and the Orange down, 8-6, Cooney hit four straight threes in the middle of the first half and scored on a short jumper to give Syracuse a boost and a 20-12 lead with six minutes left in the half. His effort gave the team momentum and confidence to play shut down defense in coach Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone. When Cooney hit his fifth trey of the half with six seconds left, the Orange jogged off the court with a 32-18 lead.
The Irish didn't fold in the second half, starting off with an 11-5 run to cut into Syracuse's advantage and eventually cutting the lead to four points with 6:01 remaining. Once more, however, Cooney stepped up to save the day, hitting a pair of threes and making a traditional three-point play within a span of 1:31, boosting Syracuse's lead back to 10.
Notre Dame could get no closer than five after that, and the Ornage hit five free throws down the stretch to seal the 61-55 win, improving to 22-0 and 9-0 in the ACC.
Cooney's career-high 33 points tied a Syracuse record for made threes in a game, shared by Gerry McNamara, Andy Rautins and James Southerland. McNamara, now an assistant coach for the Orange, watched from the bench, obviously thrilled at the success of his long-range protege.
The 6'4" sophomore was 11-for-15 overall, making nine of 12 from three-point land. His 11 field goals were more than the rest of his teammates combined, which went 10-for-32. Cooney added a pair of free throws, two assists, two rebounds and four steals and was the only Orange player in double figures.
Syracuse will get some time off to relish their #1 ranking. They host Clemson next, on Sunday, February 9.