T.J. Robinson pressures Syracuse's Kris Joseph. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)
Dec. 13, 2008
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim seemed a little hoarse after Syracuse (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) had beaten Long Beach State on Saturday. Chalk it up to a vociferous speech.
"Coach motivated us at halftime," guard Andy Rautins said.
Whatever Boeheim said seemed to work.
Arinze Onuaku made all seven of his shots and finished with 17 points, Eric Devendorf added 13 points and five assists, and the unbeaten Orange beat the 49ers 79-55 for their ninth straight victory.
Syracuse (9-0) was coming off a 10-day layoff, and it showed in the first half as the Orange shot 40.6 percent and Jonny Flynn and Paul Harris, the team's leading scorers, combined for three points. Flynn, averaging 19.5 points, was 0-for-5 from the field and Harris, averaging nearly 15, was 0-for-3.
"With a week off, it's always going to be tough to get going," Onuaku said. "It was good to play a game. We all thought it was much too close at halftime."
Although Syracuse never trailed in the game, the 49ers (4-5) were within 33-30 with 71 seconds left in the first half after Larry Anderson's driving layup. But the Orange scored the final four points of the half to take a 37-30 lead and started the second with an 18-4 run to take control.
Flynn fed Onuaku for a spinning layup off the glass, and the big center then slammed home two dunks off passes from Harris and Devendorf to key the surge. Onuaku backed in on Brian Freeman to score again from in close and give Syracuse a 55-34 lead with 13:26 left.
Long Beach State made just one of 10 shots to start the second half before Cornel Williams drained a 3 from the left corner at 13:03.
That was a rarity on this day. The 49ers were 3-for-15 from long range in the first half and 2-for-21 in the second, shooting 13.9 percent overall. The 36 attempts were just five off the all-time high for a Syracuse opponent shared by Robert Morris (2008) and St. John's (2003).
49ers coach Dan Monson talked to his young team, which includes four freshmen, for well over a half hour after the game, then answered questions with a voice that was slightly quavering.
"We got very frustrated offensively. We just couldn't get an offensive rhythm," Monson said. "It's pretty much the same thing that's happened the last couple of games to us. We're a young team and very fragile right now. I feel like, if they [Syracuse] give you an opportunity to come in and play, you need to perform better."
Stephan Gilling and T.J. Robinson each scored 12 points for Long Beach State, though Robinson had only one point in the second half. Donovan Morris, Big West Conference player of the week the past two weeks and averaging 19.3 points, shot 2-for-15, missed all eight of his 3-point attempts, and finished with five points against Syracuse's man-to-man defense. He had scored 20 or more points in five straight games.
"I missed a lot of shots," said Morris, who entered the game shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 40 percent on 3s. "I forced a couple, but for the most part 95 percent of my shots were missed. They just didn't go in. I don't have any excuses."
Rick Jackson had 11 points and nine rebounds, Rautins had 13 points, Flynn finished with nine, and Harris five. Devendorf, dealing with an off-court altercation that could lead to his suspension from school, showed no sign that he was distracted, playing a solid 24 minutes with no turnovers.
"Eric doesn't let external things bother him," Rautins said. "We stick together as a team."
Five straight points by Rautins and two free throws by Onuaku gave the Orange their biggest lead, 74-43, with 4:48 to go.
After Syracuse played six games in a 12-day span, Boeheim took the blame for the tough slate, which included games against Florida and Kansas on consecutive nights in the CBE Classic in Kansas City.
Now the Orange have begun another flurry -- five games in 10 days -- before Big East play begins Dec. 30 at home against Seton Hall. And they started it by winning without much from their two top scorers.
"Us being deep won us the game," Harris said. "We just weren't ready to play."
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