Top-ranked Syracuse survived an off night from C.J. Fair against Notre Dame thanks to the three-point heroics of Trevor Cooney and the Orange remained undefeated with nine games left in the regular season.
Syracuse (22-0, 9-0 ACC) was privy to an unconscious shooting performance from Cooney as he went 9-of-12 from distance, which tied the Orange record for most made threes in a game (McNamara, Rautins and Southerland). His career-high 33 points helped secure the 61-55 win over Notre Dame (12-11, 3-7), which held Fair to six points on 2-of-13 shooting from the field.
Syracuse improved its record against former and present Big East teams to 8-0, with a trip to Pittsburgh on Feb. 12, and a home game against Boston College a week later to complete the trip down memory lane.
That game at Pitt will be the only road game for the Orange over the next four. After that game, Syracuse will finish the season playing four of its last five games on the road. With half of the ACC schedule done, Syracuse will try to justify its No. 1 ranking with games at Duke on Feb. 22, at Virginia on Mar. 1 and the aforementioned Pitt as the marquee contests remaining.
In a normal season, teams would revel in the chance to defeat Syracuse. This season, that No. 1 ranking and the undefeated status of the Orange places an extra large bull’s-eye on their backs.
The Orange won’t surprise any teams with their style of play but they will use the remaining games to continue to improve and get ready for the postseason. This will include cleaning up the zone on the perimeter and finding ways to generate more offense.
Let’s take a deeper look at what else might be in order for the Orange for the remainder of the regular season.