Top-ranked Syracuse holds off Notre Dame

The Associated Press /

Published Feb 4, 2014 at 12:01AM

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Trevor Cooney has his shooting touch back — just in the nick of time for top-ranked Syracuse.

Cooney scored a career-high 33 points, matching a school record with nine 3-pointers, and the Orange beat Notre Dame 61-55 on Monday night in another matchup of former Big East foes.

After struggling to a woeful 25.4 percent (14 of 55) from behind the arc in his first seven Atlantic Coast Conference games, Cooney has hit 11 of 13 in the past two games and was the difference against the Irish as the Orange’s front line faltered.

“It feels good,” Cooney said. “I kind of got going and guys just found me in good spots.”

Syracuse (22-0, 9-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), which moved to No. 1 this week after its scintillating 91-89 overtime victory over Duke on Saturday night and Arizona’s loss to California, extended its school record for most consecutive wins to start a season. Notre Dame (12-11, 3-7) has lost seven of nine.

Two days after one of the most emotional wins in Jim Boeheim’s 38 years as head coach, Syracuse played its first game as the nation’s top team since the 2011-12 season. Two years ago, the Orange were unbeaten and ranked No. 1 when they went to South Bend, and Notre Dame upset them 67-58.

It was the eighth time Notre Dame had beaten a No. 1 team and turned out to be Syracuse’s lone loss of the regular season.

“That was in the back of my mind,” said C.J. Fair, who had a season-low six points on 2-of-13 shooting after scoring a career-high 28 against Duke. “I didn’t want that to happen again.”

Cooney made sure there was no repeat, hitting five 3-pointers in the first half as the Orange gained a 13-point halftime advantage, then barely held the Irish at bay in the second half.

Also on Monday:

No. 6 Villanova 81, Xavier 58: VILLANOVA, Pa. — James Bell hit six 3-pointers and scored 27 points and Darrun Hilliard had 17 to lead Villanova to a win over Xavier.

No. 16 Iowa St. 98, No. 19 Oklahoma St. 97: STILLWATER, Okla. — DeAndre Kane had 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists to help Iowa State defeat Oklahoma State in triple overtime.

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