Starting 1-4 in league play and with a tough three game road trip on the horizon, Syracuse desperately needed a win at Wake Forest on Saturday. Shortly after tip-off, the Orange victory was hardly in question. Soon it turned to how much are they going to win by? The answer to that question was 28 in an 83-55 whalloping of the Demon Decons.
Trevor Cooney was a big reason for the Orange success, pouring a game-high 25 points, 21 in the first half. By the first media timeout, Cooney had scored all 11 of the Syracuse points, and was beating Wake Forest by himself 11-4.
"I stayed aggressive and the shots were fallling for me," Cooney said. "I was able to get into a rhythm early. When I'm able to get in a rhythm early it kind of carries me through the game."
The Orange had no answer for Cooney in the first half, knocking down five first half three pointers. The graduate student went so far as to say it was his best game of the season where he scored 27 in Jim Boeheim's return to the bench after his nine-game suspension.
After winning their first ACC game on Wednesday against Boston College, the Orange got it going early, racing out to an early 30-11 lead and stretched that to 47-27 at halftime. This was the first true road win of the season for the Orange, but coach Boeheim downplayed the importance of getting that out of the way.
"When we make shots like that early like that, it changes the complection of the game," Boeheim said. "It's good to get any win where we are. We're happy to get any win right now."
Michael Gbinije, who scored 15 to go along with eight rebounds and two assists, had a different idea though.
"Very important for us," he said. "It's tough to win in this league, on the road at that, so for us to pass our first road test was good. Hopefully that will keep our momentum up."
When Cooney cooled down after halftime, Tyler Roberson heated up, scoring 14 of his 16 after the break. He finished with his fourth double-double of the year and his second straight.
Cooney stayed aggressive in the second half, and turned into more of a passer, finding Gbinije for a couple of breakaway dunks. With the ball just inside the arc at the top of the key, Gbinije streaked up the baseline just in time to receive a laser from Cooney for a monster slam. Cooney finished with a game-high three assists.
With a surprisingly strong Syracuse contingent in attendance, several "let's go Orange" chants broke out and even a "We want tacos" chant when the team approached the 70 point barrier.
Syracuse shot 44.4 percent for the game, 40 percent from three. Compared to that, the Orange held the Demon Deacons to 32.6 percent shooting, and only 10 percent from distance.
"Our best defensive game we've had all year," Boeheim said.
Tyler Lydon added 11 points to make it four Syracuse players in double figures compared to just one for Wake Forest. Doral Moore finished with 10 to lead the Deacons.
The one area of the game the Orange struggled in was fouls. In all, Syracuse was called for 27 fouls. DaJuan Coleman, Malachi Richardson, and Lydon were called for four personals apiece. Chinonso Obokoh fouled out in 13 really well played minutes. Gbinije and Roberson were both called for three apiece.
In all, Wake Forest went 25-42 from the line. Syracuse went 17-25.
"I guess it just goes to show free throws aren't so important all the time," Boeheim said stifling a laugh.
The road ahead doesn't get any easier for the Orange, who play at Duke Monday night and follow that up with a trip to Viriginia next Saturday. But now the Orange have shown they can win on the road.