When his first 3-pointer swished through the net, Trevor Cooney was ready to unleash his second. By the time his fifth rolled around, Cooney knew he was in for a special night. And when his ninth grazed the net, Cooney was part of Syracuse history.
The sophomore sharpshooter etched his name into SU lore Monday night, joining Gerry McNamara, Andy Rautins and James Southerland as the only players to hit nine 3-pointers in a game.
“That’s pretty darn good company,” McNamara said.
Cooney was electric in guiding No. 1 Syracuse (22-0, 9-0 Atlantic Coast) to a 61-55 win over Notre Dame (12-11, 3-7) in front of 25,850 at the Carrier Dome on Monday night. On a night in which C.J. Fair shot 2-of-13 and Jerami Grant and Tyler Ennis were ineffective, Cooney had the best game of his career.
He scored 33 points, hitting 11-of-15 overall and 9-of-12 from beyond the arc. The slump he found himself mired in midway through the season is history.
“He was outstanding,” McNamara said. “It’s rare you get to see performances like that.”
Two days removed from his best performance ever, Fair was ice cold. He had the same open looks he had against Duke, but nothing was falling.
Ennis and Grant were also stagnant. The Orange needed a spark.
They got one.
“Fortunately Trevor must have got the message early that they were not going to play well and score,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said.
By the time halftime rolled around, Cooney had already hit five 3s. Four of them were nothing but net. Two were from NBA range. And the last one, soaring in from 5 feet beyond the arc, came with three seconds to go in the half.
Cooney pumped his fist as he floated off court before getting mobbed by his teammates.
That’s when he knew he was in a groove — this wasn’t a typical night.
“When he hit the 3 going into halftime,” McNamara said, “I was like ‘Alright, kid’s got it going on a little bit.’”
Cooney, who hit just 13-of-50 3s in a recent six-game stretch, regained his stroke. He nailed both 3-pointers he took against Duke on Saturday and finished with a solid 14 points.
But Monday, Cooney was far more than solid.
The fun didn’t stop in the second half. He hit two 3-balls early in the frame, riding the momentum he gathered early.
It didn’t matter what part of the floor Cooney shot from. It was going in regardless.
“You could tell that he was locked in,” Grant said. “He wasn’t missing.”
And when Notre Dame cut the deficit to 45-41 with six minutes to go, Cooney hit another 3. This one was right over Tom Knight’s fingertips from the corner.
Nothing but net.
Tre-vor Coo-ney, Tre-vor Coo-ney.
The chants rained down from the student section. A crowd struggling to cope with the fact that the Duke game was no more found a reason to cheer.
Then he converted an and-one off a nifty pass from Rakeem Christmas, and chest-bumped his backcourt mate Ennis before swishing the free throw.
Cooney became the first Syracuse player since 2004 to have more than half of SU’s points in a game.
The player in 2004 was McNamara.
“I’ve been saying it for years about Trevor,” McNamara said. “The guy can just flat out shoot it. Tonight he did a great job of putting us on his back.”
Not including Cooney, Syracuse shot 10-of-32 overall and 1-of-4 from the arc. Going forward, Boeheim acknowledged Cooney “won’t have breathing room,” which he said will ultimately help other players.
That also means that Cooney will need to continue to find ways to get open, something he’s struggled to do in stretches.
“Guys will probably know what gum I’m chewing,” Cooney said.
But on Monday, when Syracuse needed someone — anyone — to put the ball in the basket, Cooney did just that.
He may never shoot as well as he did against the Irish, but if he can pose a threat from downtown over the next few months, Syracuse becomes that much more dangerous.
Said McNamara: “I think it makes us a different team offensively and takes us to another level because he’s such a great shooter.”
Published on February 3, 2014 at 9:00 pm
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