While Syracuse defeated its ACC rival Notre Dame 61-55 in last night’s matchup, the real victor of the game was Trevor Cooney. The sophomore guard displayed a commanding performance on the court, with 33 points—including nine threes—and four defensive steals.
“In the first half, neither team could score except for Trevor. It was his half,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “Our offense was just not good.”
Cooney proved that he had the hot hand just six minutes into the game, when he hit his first big 3 and never looked back. By the end of the first half, he was responsible for 17 of Syracuse’s 31 points and showed no signs of stopping. At the end of the game, he had scored more buckets than his seven other teammates combined.
Boeheim attributed the otherwise unproductive offensive evening to the change of pace from Saturday’s high-energy game. “We’re coming off a fast-paced game and we just did not adjust well,” he said. “There’s always going to be some sort of a let up when you play a game like Saturday, but you have to find a way.”
Cooney was certainly the exception to Syracuse’s lackluster offense, which he attributed to persistence and simply finding a rhythm to his stroke.
“I missed my first shot of the game and of the second half, but I just stayed with it and you just keep shooting. I was able to get into a good rhythm,” Cooney said. “Once I made the first couple I just wanted to keep going, keep going and be aggressive. The shots were there and I just took them.”
With each successive three Cooney drained, the Carrier Dome crowd grew louder and louder. The guard knew that in order to keep creating shot opportunities, he needed to constantly bring a level of intensity to his play.
“I just wanted to keep moving. I know that the ball finds activity and if I kept moving it was going to make Notre Dame work on defense,” he said.
Despite his incredible individual performance, Cooney made sure to credit his teammates for helping him get the ball in open spots.
“It definitely just felt good coming off the hands,” Cooney said. “When you get into a rhythm like that, you really just want to keep shooting and get open and I was able to do that. My teammates set some good screens, and I know Tyler’s always going to find me.”
CJ Fair, who had a career-high 28 points during Saturday’s game against Duke, struggled against Notre Dame and was grateful for his teammate’s impressive shooting.
“It was tough because I wasn’t making the jump shots I normally make. They wouldn’t let me drive,” Fair said. “Every time he made a three I was just saying thank you to him.”
At the end of the night, Cooney tied the Syracuse record for the most 3s scored in a single game. In addition to Andy Rautins and James Southerland, Cooney joins Gerry McNamara in the record books—a man with whom he has spent a lot of quality time in the past year working on his shot.
“I’ve always looked up to Gerry and I continue to do so,” Cooney said, smiling. “And to tie a record that he has in a program like this—it’s special. It’s really special to be on that list with him.”
At the post-game press conference, Boeheim nicely summed up the game. “We were not shooting the ball well—with one exception,” he said. “Fortunately, that was enough for tonight.”