Cooney has 20, Syracuse beats Colgate 78-43

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Eleven games into the season and unable to put together any sort of winning streak, Syracuse is still searching for an identity with conference play looming.

The Orange may have found some of it on Monday night. Trevor Cooney scored 20 points and Rakeem Christmas had 16 points and 11 rebounds in a 78-43 victory over Colgate.

''Coach is always saying we're not even scratching the surface yet, and we're hanging in there with the top teams in the country,'' freshman point guard Kaleb Joseph said. ''I think that says a lot about us. As long as we get better and try to fill that potential, then we'll be OK.''

It was the 167th meeting between the upstate New York foes, and Syracuse (7-4) has won the last 49.

Syracuse needed a positive outing after its latest loss. The Orange committed 20 turnovers and blew a five-point lead in the final seconds of regulation in an overtime loss at No. 7 Villanova on Saturday, squandering a chance for a signature win in what has been a difficult season.

''The last few weeks have been good for us. We've worked hard, had a lot of games. I think we are getting better,'' coach Jim Boeheim said. ''I think we still have a long way to go. It's just part of what it is. We've got guys trying to figure out what they're doing out there - a lot to figure out.

''It's been difficult. We won't find out until we get to the tough games. We haven't played good when we had to. That's something we'll have to get better at. We've had a lot of tough games.''

Ron Patterson had a career-high 13 points and Michael Gbinije 11 for the Orange, and the double-double for Christmas was his third of the season.

''It was very important,'' Christmas said. ''We had to put that loss behind us.''

Damon Sherman-Newsome led Colgate (3-9) with 13 points and Austin Tillotson had 11.

Syracuse assumed a commanding lead at the start with a 16-0 run, utilizing a press that helped force Colgate to commit six turnovers.

After Sherman-Newsome hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to pull Colgate within 6-5 less than four minutes in, Christmas started the Syracuse surge with a pair of free throws and Cooney converted a lay-in after missing a 3. Christmas followed with a reverse layup and then fed Tyler Roberson for a slam dunk to extend the lead to 14-5.

A dunk by Roberson, a layup by Patterson and Cooney's 3-pointer curling off a screen boosted the margin to 22-5.

Every time the Raiders worked the ball around for an open shot, they failed to capitalize. Colgate was 5 for 24 (20.8 percent) from the floor in the first half, hitting just 1 of 13 from long range. Pat Moore, a native of nearby Whitesboro coming off a back injury, missed all four 3s he attempted and Sherman-Newsome was 1 for 6 from beyond the arc.

Colgate shot 19 of 55 (34.5 percent) for the game, 3 of 23 (13 percent) on 3-pointers.

''We couldn't make anything,'' Colgate coach Matt Langel said. ''Even our best shooters were getting them (open looks) and they couldn't make them. That adds up real quick, and it can snowball.''

Two free throws by Sherman-Newsome stopped the Syracuse run and his layup with 10:11 made it 24-9, giving him all nine of Colgate's points. Luke Roh's layup with 3:41 left and a turnaround jumper in the lane by Ethan Jacobs 34 seconds later accounted for the Raiders' other baskets in the period.

When Cooney hit a spinning jumper in the lane with 2:47 left, he had 14 points, one more than Colgate, which went into the locker room trailing 43-13.

Syracuse was 17 of 34 (50 percent) from the floor and 5 of 11 from long range and forced 10 turnovers while committing none.

The Orange finished 28 of 60 and 10 of 20 on 3-pointers, with Cooney hitting 4 of 9.

''If we win, I feel good at the end of the day,'' Cooney said. ''If we don't win, it doesn't matter how I play. It was a tough way to lose (to Villanova), but if we went in and got totally blown out, coming out here tonight would have been tough because we might think we're not that good.''

TIP-INS

Syracuse: The Orange have lost four games in the nonconference portion of the schedule only twice since Jim Boeheim became head coach in 1976.

Colgate: The Raiders' last win over the Orange was a 67-63 victory in February 1962 at Syracuse, which finished the season 2-22 under coach Marc Guley.

STAT LINES

Syracuse's Kaleb Joseph failed to score, missing all three of his shots, after notching his first career double-double - 10 points and 10 assists - against Villanova. Freshman forward Chris McCullough had four points, his third straight game in single digits after starting the season with 11 straight games in double figures.

UP NEXT

Syracuse hosts Long Beach State on Sunday.

Colgate at Columbia on Sunday.

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