Men's Basketball

Cooney held scoreless by smothering St. John’s defense

Trevor Cooney had scored in double figures in seven straight games before Sunday. He had hit five 3s in four of his last five games. He had shot 44 percent from the field during that torrid five-game stretch.

But against St. John’s, with D’Angelo Harrison and Co. mirroring his every move, Cooney was held scoreless for the first time in his breakout season. Cooney finished 0-of-3 from the floor, and, despite playing 27 minutes, barely had the ball in his hands.

“They did an unbelievable job on Trevor,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “He could not get a shot.”

Cooney missed all of his shots in the game’s first 13 minutes. From that point on – no looks. Not one.

Assistant coach Gerry McNamara, who works closely with Cooney and the other SU guards, said St. John’s shielded Cooney. That meant a slow night for the sharpshooter, but it paved the way for big games from C.J. Fair, Jerami Grant and Tyler Ennis.

“It’s great to have a guy that’s being played like that,” McNamara said, “because it’s going to open up the paint for other guys to penetrate.”

Syracuse shot just 1-of-8 from downtown, but finished a season-best 63.9 percent from inside the arc. The Orange totaled 38 points in the paint and didn’t miss a field goal in the game’s final four-plus minutes.

But while nearly every single player shot the ball efficiently, Cooney did not. Boeheim said the only way Cooney would have had looks was on Ennis’ penetration. Most times Ennis drove the lane, though, he was fouled.

Cooney simply never generated enough space to get into a rhythm. He tried to curl around screens, but Harrison fought over them and got up in his face.

Cooney corralled a rebound late in the second half, but then simply dished the ball back to Ennis, who reset the play. Cooney sat out from the 9:47 mark in the second half to the game’s final minute.

Michael Gbinije took his place and played well, snaring rebounds and picking up loose balls. Cooney stayed on the bench, watching as his team reclaimed the lead and pulled away for the win.

“Trevor didn’t get any easy looks,” Fair said, “and the couple he did were chippy ones he didn’t make.”

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