Carter-Williams struggles, Cooney steps up to finish with 12 points in win over Alcorn State

first_imgWhen Michael Carter-Williams is on – slashing through defenses, tormenting opposing guards, finding open teammates well before they even know they’re open – Syracuse is one of the most dominant teams in the country.Those nights are easy on the eyes for SU and any of its fans. Saturday night was no such occasion.The sophomore point guard sputtered to five points, six assists and five turnovers in 27 minutes of play. And with the game as much in the balance as it can be against Alcorn State, a two-win team from the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Carter-Williams sat on the bench. The void in guard play showed, Brandon Triche struggled too, then in stepped Trevor Cooney, preserving the Orange’s lead, and dignity. Syracuse prevailed over the Braves, by a score of 57-36.“Without him it would’ve been a nasty win,” forward James Southerland said.Much like in SU’s first loss of the season against Temple on Dec. 22, Carter-Williams was off. But unlike the game in Madison Square Garden in which poor free-throw shooting condemned the Orange, Cooney made up for Carter-Williams’ struggles.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textCooney, the hot-and-cold shooting guard gave SU 12 points, two of its three 3-pointers, three rebounds and a pair of steals in 26 minutes. More crucial, though, was when he performed.“It was good that Trevor got in there when it was a close game and made a couple really good plays to give us some space,” head coach Jim Boeheim said.In line with tradition, the Carrier Dome crowd stood on its feet, slow-clapping its way through every Orange possession of the second half cheering the home team on to its first field goal. Then the fans could sit and watch the No. 9 Orange cruise to a blowout. In theory.Those first points from the field eluded the Orange until 11:26 remained. In that 8:34 of frustration, SU went 0-for-9 from the field. Carter-Williams pulled up and missed a one-hander in the lane with 15:12 remaining. Nineteen seconds later, he was called for a charge and walked off knowingly.Boeheim pulled his starting point guard for Cooney. The head coach walked over to Carter-Williams’ spot on the bench. A brief, apparently calm exchange followed. Carter-Williams pointed to the court, and Boeheim walked away pointing at Carter-Williams.“He said I’m not doing a good job running the offense really,” Carter-Williams said. “… Just getting the team into the offense as the point guard that’s what my job is and I wasn’t doing a good job with that. Just staying positive as a team, we got down on each other and started blaming each other really.”And though Cooney’s effect was not immediate – he missed a 3 of his own when he came in for the second half – his performance salvaged a nervous display. When Alcorn State drew within seven and its players looked to believe in the upset effort as forward Michael Starks waved his hands in excitement after one layup, Cooney put the game to bed.Triche found him in the left-hand corner, and Cooney drained a 3. It was hard to tell who was more relieved, the streaky shooting guard or the anxious crowd. But it didn’t matter; the at-least statistical rout was back on.“I know that they stand up until we score our first basket, and I don’t know if that’s a record or anything,” Cooney said. “But it felt like it was forever sitting on the bench watching it and I’m sure it felt longer for the people standing.”A Cooney steal ended the next defensive possession and led to a dunk by C.J. Fair to expand the lead to 12. With 8:43 remaining, Cooney confidently took up the ball on the left wing, crossed over three times, slashed through the paint himself and finished to make it 43-31 Orange.The game was then all but over. And when it truly was, with 10 seconds left, it was Cooney again, cutting and laying in.But Carter-Williams is not in crisis.“He’s a sophomore, he’s never played before in college in a meaningful game till this year,” Boeheim said. “This is how he’s going to play.”But with Cooney bailing Carter-Williams and the Orange out, Carter-Williams’ form mattered less.Said Carter-Williams: “It was great that he stepped up when we needed him tonight.” Comments Published on December 30, 2012 at 12:49 am Contact Jacob: [email protected] | @Jacob_Klinger_ Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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