Syracuse Holds off Cornell
Updated: Saturday, November 9 2013, 10:31 AM EST
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — When Cornell's Nolan Cressler scored his 20th point of the first half to give the Big Red an unimaginable 14-point lead over No. 8 Syracuse, the Carrier Dome faithful were in disbelief.
"Everybody sleeps on the Ivy League," Cressler said. "Year in and year out, we compete with the best teams in the country. Whenever we're playing our type of basketball, we can play with anybody and beat anybody."
The Big Red surely did that, gaining a 36-22 lead when Orange freshman Tyler Roberson was called for goaltending on a shot by Cressler with 4:11 left in the opening half. Syracuse closed within six at halftime and went on an 18-5 run early in the second half to win 82-60 behind Trevor Cooney's career-high 27 points.
Cornell was 13-18 last season and fourth-year head coach Bill Courtney has had to replace four starters. Returning first-team All-Ivy forward Shonn Miller continues to recover from offseason surgery to his right shoulder that sidelined him in the preseason, but Cressler more than made up for his absence with a career-high 23 points.
"Obviously, that was a very good first half for us," Courtney said. "We did a lot of things we planned to do and did a fair job on the backboards. The whole first half our guys were extremely excited. None of our guys have had a moment, period. All these guys are basically in new roles."
Cressler has his moment. He hit 3 of 5 from beyond the arc, converted a three-point play, and hit from the wing before forcing the goaltending call. At that point, the sophomore guard had just two fewer points than the eighth-ranked team in the nation and only two off his career high.
"We were excited," Cressler said. "Everybody had us as the underdog. To be up by 14 was exciting. We had all the momentum."
Syracuse, playing its first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, leads the all-time series against Cornell 88-31 and has won 34 straight against the Big Red. It was the first game between the teams in three years, but the Big Red, 5-68 all-time against teams ranked in the Top 25, was up for the challenge, outrebounding the much bigger Orange 19-16 in the first half.
Syracuse turned the tables in the second. Cooney scored eight points in the surge and nabbed two steals, finishing the second with a court-long dash and two-handed dunk to put the Orange up 60-48 with 11:38 to go and they steadily pulled away.
"I got the first couple to go in and the game kind of flowed from there," said Cooney, who finished 10 of 12 from the field, 7 of 8 from long range "My teammates found me in great spots. I was getting my feet set and just knocked down shots. When you hit three or four in a row, that's when you know the game is coming to you."
C.J. Fair finished with 19 points for Syracuse while the Orange's heralded freshman point guard Tyler Ennis was 0 for 6 from the field but had a team-high eight rebounds and seven assists with two turnovers.