Long Beach State coach Dan Monson knew what his 49ers were up against in facing No. 4 Syracuse. His game plan went out the window in a hurry.
C.J. Fair had 16 points and a career-high 13 rebounds and Michael Carter-Williams added 15 points and 10 assists as the Orange bolted to an early lead and breezed to an 84-53 victory Thursday night.
The Orange outrebounded Long Beach State 10-2 and gained a 16-4 lead in less than 6 minutes, then used the long ball to pull away.
"Our margin for error is zero," Monson said. "You can't simulate that length. You can do all the rebounding drills you want. It just knocked us back and we were never able to recover. We let them get off to a good start and didn't make them uncomfortable."
Syracuse entered the game 33 of 112 from beyond the arc (29.5 percent), and without super sub James Southerland's contribution — 18 of 38 (47.4 percent) — that figure was a whole lot worse (20.3 percent). In its win over Eastern Michigan on Monday night, Syracuse shot 1 for 10 from beyond the arc in the first half and finished 5 of 22.
With the likes of 6-foot-9, 275-pound freshman Dajuan Coleman, 6-9 Rakeem Christmas and the 6-8 Fair patrolling the lane, Monson chose to protect the inside. The 49ers became the first team this season to hold Syracuse under 40 points in the paint, but it hardly mattered as the Orange finished with a 12-4 edge in second-chance points and outrebounded the 49ers 53-39.
"We had to pick our poison," Monson said. "We felt like we needed to try to keep them out of the paint. We didn't do a very good job of that. They got some putbacks and got into an offensive flow, and all of a sudden they're making shots they haven't made all year."
The Orange finished 10 of 28 from beyond the arc. Carter-Williams went 3 of 8, snapping out of a 1-for-15 funk in the first six games.
Dan Jennings had a career-high 20 points and Peter Pappageorge added 11 for Long Beach State. James Ennis, the 49ers' leading scorer and rebounder, had 10 points and seven boards.
"We wanted to come out and try to get some confidence in the first four minutes of the game, prove to ourselves that we could play with these guys," Pappageorge said. "Unfortunately, they came out and kind of hit us in the mouth. We came back a little bit, but it just wasn't enough."
Syracuse upped its home winning streak to 27 games, tops in the nation, and has won 49 consecutive regular-season nonconference games. Long Beach State (3-5) had a two-game winning streak snapped.
It was the third double-double of the season for Carter-Williams, the Orange's 6-foot-6 point guard, who boosted his assist total for the season to 67. Brandon Triche had 11 points and five assists, Trevor Cooney matched his career high with 11 points, and Christmas had a career-high 11 points for the Orange.
Long Beach State has beaten two ranked teams under Monson — Pittsburgh and Xavier — and both were last season. But so far this season the 49ers are 0 for 3, having also lost to North Carolina (78-63) and Arizona (94-72).
"Everybody talks about, 'Well, you're going to lose confidence.' I don't think an 18- or 20-year-old is going to lose confidence," Monson said. "They need reality, and the reality is we've got to get better defensively and rebounding."
Syracuse hit 7 of 15 from beyond the arc in building a 20-point halftime lead. Carter-Williams matched his career high with three, while Cooney and Triche each hit two.
Long Beach State rallied as Pappageorge and Ennis hit 3-pointers and Ennis converted a dunk on an alley-oop pass. But after Pappageorge hit another from beyond the arc to pull the 49ers within 25-19, the Orange went into high gear.
Cooney drained a 3, Jerami Grant hit a jumper, Cooney followed with a steal and dunk, and Carter-Williams and Triche hit 3-pointers to put the Orange up 38-26 with 4:38 left.
Syracuse closed the half with an 11-3 spurt to take command. Carter-Williams, who leads the nation in assists, had six without a turnover before the break, the prettiest coming on an over-the-shoulder pass to Christmas for a dunk that boosted the lead to 14.
The Orange had its share of luck, too. When Grant dropped the ball in the lane on a drive, it landed at the feet of Christmas, and he slammed it home with 1:37 left.
Mike Caffey's jumper at the buzzer for Long Beach State made it 49-29 at halftime, but the Orange didn't let up in the second half. Syracuse opened with a 12-4 run and built the lead to 28 points on Southerland's lay-in with 15:49 left. It was the first and only basket of the game for the Orange's leading scorer.
"I think we can take some good from it," Pappageorge said. "What we have to work on is if we get down. We can't. We have to keep playing, stay together, and not let the bleeding get worse. But it's still early, we're going to learn from this and try to get better."