No. 2 Syracuse pulls away from BC, 69-59
BOSTON (AP) Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has seen this from his team already this season, so it didn't come as a surprise. The second-ranked Orange followed some lackluster play with a dominating stretch.
Trevor Cooney scored 21 points, Jerami Grant added 16 and unbeaten Syracuse fought off pesky Boston College for a 69-59 victory Monday night.
"We've been down in the second half a couple of times this year," Boeheim said. "When we're in that situation guys make plays. Tonight it was Trevor."
Trailing 51-46 with just over 10 minutes to play, the Orange started to take advantage of their size inside during a 16-1 run over the ensuing 3 1-2 minutes. Grant had a dunk and conventional three-point play. Cooney scored on a putback on the third offensive rebound and nailed a 3 from the right wing, capping the run.
"We dug ourselves into a little bit of a hole, but it was good to see us get out of there," Cooney said. "It just shows us a little more about this team."
The Orange were being tested by BC's timely outside shooting before they picked it up on the defensive end and took charge.
"I thought overall our defense was good except for that," Boeheim said. "We played as bad offensively as we have all year."
C.J. Fair and Tyler Ennis both had 12 points for the Orange (17-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). Grant added eight rebounds for Syracuse, one of four unbeaten teams in Division I.
Lonnie Jackson scored 18 points - all on 3-pointers - for the Eagles (5-12, 1-3), Ryan Anderson had 14 and Olivier Hanlan finished with 13 points and six assists.
"I thought this midway through the game to myself, `The reason we're competing against the No. 2 team in the country is because we've been through so much already in the season that it's not fazing the guys,'" BC coach Steve Donahue said of his team, which struggled through a tough non-conference schedule.
The Orange, who also started 2011-12 by winning their first 17 games, outrebounded Boston College 28-24, collecting half on the offensive glass, which helped them pull away for the win.
After BC opened a six-point lead midway into the second half, Fair felt like Syracuse realized it was being tested.
"It was like, `If we don't respond right now this can get out of hand,'" he said. "We came together and once we got going we never looked back."
BC went 9 for 21 from 3-point range, but couldn't hit any key shots in the closing minutes.
Following Syracuse's game-breaking run, Hanlan hit two free throws before the Orange's Baye Moussa Keita had a one-handed putback slam, making it 60-51 with 6:01 left.
"Plays like that are momentum swings," Cooney said. "It got on our side for a period of time which was big for us."
The Eagles were never closer than six points the rest of the way.
"Trevor made a couple of big shots to get us going," Fair said. "I think it's all about him being comfortable and confident."
The Orange, who host No. 22 Pittsburgh on Saturday, were without DaJuan Coleman, who was sidelined with a bruised knee.
BC center Dennis Clifford was a late scratch after rolling his ankle in warmups. He's played in just two games this season, being sidelined with tendinitis in both knees.
Jackson's sixth 3-pointer of the game, coming off Joe Rahon's long arcing pass over a double-team from corner to corner, had given BC a 50-44 lead with 11:56 left. But, after that shot, the Eagles went 11:12 without a field goal, turning the ball over on a handful of trips, before Eddie Odio had a dunk in the closing minute.
The Eagles, who trailed 32-30 at halftime, opened the second half by outscoring the Orange 15-3 to take a 45-37 lead on Anderson's dunk with just under 16 minutes to play. BC ran plays through the lower part of Syracuse's zone that led to consecutive 3-pointers from the right corner by Jackson and Rahon before Anderson collected a feed inside for his dunk.
With a nearly half-filled building of Syracuse fans breaking into a chant of `Let's Go Orange,' Cooney had three breakaway dunks off turnovers - two coming off his steals - as they took a 32-23 lead with 2 1-2 minutes left in the half. It looked like they were ready to break the game open.
The Eagles then scored the final seven points of the half, with Jackson's third 3-pointer triggering the run.
It was the first time the schools - both charter members of the Big East - met as members of the ACC.
Updated January 14, 2014