SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Syracuse has turned up the defense at the right time all season, and when High Point threatened to pull off a monumental upset the second-ranked Orange did what they do best with their quick hands and savvy play.
Trevor Cooney hit five 3-pointers and scored 17 points, C.J. Fair added 15 points, and Syracuse forced 15 turnovers in the second half to pull away from the Panthers 75-54 on Friday night.
A three-point Syracuse lead at the half turned into a one-point deficit early in the second half when Devante Wallace's leaner in the lane gave High Point a 40-39 lead. The Orange (11-0) responded with a 28-3 run to erase any doubt about the outcome.
"We knew in the second half we had to get our confidence early, but we kind of started off a little bit slow again the first couple of minutes," Fair said. "But then we got it going. We got the stops we weren't making in the first half. They were making us work on offense and on the defensive end, taking their time, and we were taking quick shots and not making them work."
The Orange are the highest-ranked team High Point has ever played. The Panthers lost to third-ranked North Carolina 94-69 in December 2006 and are 2-26 against the Atlantic Coast Conference, the two wins coming more than 50 years ago.
They departed deflated by the score but satisfied with the effort.
"I'm really proud of my team and the way that they battled and competed," High Point coach Scott Cherry said. "This should give us some confidence to be able to compete with anybody in the country. It doesn't mean we're going to beat them, but we should certainly be able to compete with all the teams in our league. I'm proud of everybody's effort. They competed the whole game."
Cooney, who entered the game shooting 46.3 percent from beyond the arc, has made at least five 3-pointers in six games this season. Freshman point guard Tyler Ennis had 10 points and matched his season high with nine assists and Jerami Grant also had 10 points for Syracuse.
Wallace led High Point with 10 points, Anthony Lindauer had nine, and Dejuan McGaughy and Lorenzo Cugini seven apiece. Leading scorer John Brown, averaging 20.1 points, was held to a season-low six points on 3-of-11 shooting.
"It's tough when he plays these guys with this length," Cherry said about Brown, his redshirt sophomore star. "He's in the inside and he's trying to find space, and there's not a lot of space to work down there. But he did get some good looks. For some reason, he didn't convert them tonight. He was just trying his heart out."
Syracuse finished 29 for 54 (53.7 percent) and scored 38 points in the paint.
High Point stayed with the Orange at the outset of the second half. Brown blocked Dajuan Coleman's shot and then converted a dunk at the other end to narrow the Syracuse lead to a point.
After falling behind for the second and final time in the game, Syracuse responded with an 11-0 spurt in less than 3 minutes. Baye Moussa Keita started it with a putback and Ennis scored two baskets in 6 seconds, hitting a driving layup and then stealing the inbounds pass for another easy bucket. Two free throws by Grant and Cooney's fourth 3 of the game capped the quick spurt and put Syracuse up 50-40 at 14:03.
Fair's runner and another 3 from Cooney boosted the lead to 55-43 midway through the half as the Orange overwhelmed the Panthers, who committed 19 turnovers that Syracuse converted into 27 points.
"The first half, when you're not active, you don't force turnovers," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "We forced four turnovers in the first half, 15 in the second, and that got us out, got us some easy baskets. That was really the difference — starting to just really play defense."
Syracuse received a scare when Grant slipped to the floor with a sprained left ankle midway through the second half, but he walked off OK and retreated to the locker room to get examined.
Syracuse pressed early and led by as many as 10 points in the opening half, gaining a 16-6 lead on Cooney's second straight 3-pointer at 12:47. Keita's three-point play kept the Orange lead intact at 11:55, but the Panthers had begun to find their range from outside with Lindauer's 3-pointer.
After missing six of their first seven shots, the Panthers finished the half 14 of 28 and were 6 of 12 from beyond the arc as four players hit from long range. They made 2 of 8 from beyond the arc in the second half and shot just 7 of 20 (35 percent) overall.