Syracuse, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Trevor Cooney made sure Syracuse wouldn't have a letdown, as the sharpshooter poured in a career-high 33 points behind nine 3-pointers to carry the top-ranked Orange past the upset-minded Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 61-55, on Monday.
A Carrier Dome record crowd of 35,446 was ear-piercingly electric for Saturday's showdown against Duke, an instant classic won by Syracuse in overtime that vaulted the Orange to a unanimous No. 1 ranking this week.
Two days later, the arena was quiet as a mouse as Notre Dame cut a 13-point halftime deficit down to three coming down the stretch.
Cooney, though, scored six points during an 8-1 run that restored the double- digit lead, and the Orange (22-0, 9-0 ACC) held on to continue their best start in school history.
"There is always going to be some let up after you play a game like Saturday," reasoned Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. "But we got through it and we'll be able to get a couple days of rest in and I think that will be good for us."
Syracuse won despite rare off-nights from C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant, who were both coming off career-best performances against Duke but combined for just 15 points on 5-of-21 shooting on Monday.
Fair made sure to give Cooney full credit following the game.
"Trevor saved the game for us," said Fair, who shot 2-for-13 from the field. "I had a bad game, but we got the win so I'm happy."
Garrick Sherman and Steve Vasturia led Notre Dame (12-11, 3-7) with 16 and 13 points, respectively.
Notre Dame shot 7-of-23 (30.4 percent) from the field and committed eight turnovers in the first half, but scored on six of its first seven possessions out of the break to pull within 38-32 on an Eric Atkins 3-pointer.
Tom Knight's dunk brought the Irish within 43-40, and it stayed that way until Grant battled for a bucket in the lane with 6 1/2 minutes to play.
After Sherman went 1-of-2 at the foul line, Cooney finally got the crowd excited with another 3-pointer and a bucket inside while being fouled. The free throw gave Syracuse a 51-41 advantage with five minutes remaining, and Grant answered five straight Notre Dame points by scoring inside again with 1:28 on the clock.
Atkins had a chance in the final minute to make it a one-possession game but missed a runner in the lane, and Syracuse avoided the upset.
With the Orange offense sleep-walking through the motions early on, Cooney woke up his teammates with three consecutive long 3-pointers, igniting a 13-0 run that gave Syracuse a 22-12 lead with five minutes to go before halftime.
Cooney added a baseline jumper and Fair got a leaner to fall during a Notre Dame scoreless drought that lasted over seven minutes, and the Orange took a 31-18 cushion into the break following another deep Cooney trifecta.