Sam Maller | Asst. Photo EditorMen's Basketball
FAIR SHARE: Five SU players score in double figures in rout of Long Beach State
No. 4 Syracuse 84, Long Beach State 53
Long Beach State must not have thought too much of Syracuse’s shooters. The 49ers gave them plenty of room to work early on. As the Orange continued to knock down 3-pointer after 3-pointer, the 49ers fell deeper and deeper into a hole.
“I think in the beginning, starting off the game, they obviously have seen that we haven’t shot the ball well from the perimeter and they gave us some open looks,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “That kind of broke the game open, and it kind of stayed that way.”
Syracuse’s offensive attack, consisting of outside shots, thunderous dunks and beautiful baseline drives, saw five players score in the double digits on the way to an 84-53 rout of Long Beach State in front of 20,876 fans in the Carrier Dome on Thursday. The Orange’s balanced scoring put its depth and versatility on display. When Syracuse’s offense is clicking, it’s close to impossible to shut down.
As a team, the Orange went 10-of-28 from behind the arc. Five players knocked down 3-pointers, with Michael Carter-Williams and Trevor Cooney each knocking down three apiece. Brandon Triche sank two, and even forwards C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant hit one each.
“We want to make shots, open shots,” Triche said. “If we’re able to do that, then I don’t see any team being able to stop us with any defense that they throw at us.”
Triche drained a wide-open 3-pointer from the right wing just over two minutes into the game. It gave Syracuse a five-point lead that would only continue to expand on a night where the Orange’s outside shooters were knocking down seemingly effortless shots.
Cooney, who had only made four 3-pointers in six games so far, knocked down three on Thursday. It was the type of performance Syracuse expected to get from the lethal outside shooter. Head coach Jim Boeheim said Cooney’s shooting struggles might have crept into his thoughts in recent games.
Now Cooney’s found his stroke, and each thunderous 3 he makes pushes the thoughts of his misses further from relevancy. He hit his first 3 about midway through the first half to put SU up 23-12. He hit another on his next attempt that would give Syracuse an 11-point lead.
“I just think that it takes awhile for shooters to get comfortable, and when you miss a couple you start thinking about it a little too much,” Boeheim said. “He’ll be fine. He gets shots. He’ll make some.”
And so would the rest of the Orange’s shooters.
Carter-Williams hit one with under six minutes left to put Syracuse up 35-21, and just over a minute later, Triche drained one from the left wing to make it 38-23.
And if SU wasn’t knocking down shots from the outside, it was turning stifling defensive plays into transition baskets that the 49ers couldn’t stop. Cooney poked the ball away from Long Beach State guard Deng Deng, and Carter-Williams took the deflection and passed the ball right back to Cooney, who raced to the basket for a fast-break dunk.
“I’m coming out here and just playing hard,” Cooney said. “I’m really just concentrating on being active on defense and the shots will fall.”
Carter-Williams’ 3 from the top of the key in the closing minutes of the first half sent Syracuse into the break with a commanding 20-point lead. The Orange continued its stroke coming out of the break, with Fair hitting one from the left corner less than two minutes in, and Grant hitting one from the left wing six minutes later.
Grant took a pass from Triche, drove the left baseline and dunked the ball to the roar of the crowd. It gave Syracuse a 77-44 lead on a night where the Orange’s offense was too versatile for Long Beach State to stop.
Triche said now when he goes to the basket, he can kick out to a shooter with confidence they’ll knock down the shot. Or he can choose to keep it and shoot a floater. Either way, the Orange’s scorers were hitting baskets from all over the floor.
“I think with our defense being so well, it makes our offense that much easier,” Triche said. “We were able to rebound the ball well, too, and get in transition and get a lot of guys open shots.”
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