Cal State Long Beach happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Syracuse, out to make a good impression after a lackluster performance against Canisius on Wednesday, dashed to a 19-6 lead and built a 32-point bulge in the second half Saturday night before settling for a 94-79 victory.
“We came out a little lackadaisical against Canisius,” said freshman Scott McCorkle, who came off the bench to join five other players in double figures for No. 3 Syracuse.
“In this game, we had a little more intensity. We wanted it a little more tonight,” he said.
“It’s always a concern, to get out early,” said junior forward Dave Johnson, who had 12 points. “Tonight, we just came out with the right mental attitude and we just got after them.”
Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim noticed the difference in his team, which he criticized after Wednesday’s 92-83 victory.
“It was a good game for us coming off that last game,” Boeheim said. “We were active on defense, we got our hands on a lot of loose balls and moved the ball offensively.”
Syracuse (9-0), which built a 55-35 halftime lead, left no doubt about the outcome as it held the 49ers to 14 points in the first 11 1/2 minutes of the second half while pushing its lead to 81-49.
Long Beach (2-5), led by Lucious Harris’ 24 points, made the final score closer with a 22-6 run against reserves.
Billy Owens finished with 19 points for Syracuse, even though he did not play in the final 9 1/2 minutes. Center LeRon Ellis had 17 and McCorkle a career-high 14 points coming off the bench.
Syracuse, which outscored its opponents by 99 points in the opening half of its first eight games, used an aggressive all-court defense to force the 49ers into 19 turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
The Orangemen led, 9-6, before scoring off 10 consecutive points, and Johnson’s breakaway reverse slam with 12:40 left gave Syracuse a 25-11 cushion.
Syracuse scored 13 of the next 16 points for a 34-14 lead midway through the half, but the 49ers went on a 9-1 run to shave the deficit to 35-23 with 7:31 left.
Syracuse got only one point from three one-and-one free-throw situations during a nearly four-minute cold spell from the field.
Troy Joseph’s free throw with 4:47 to play made it 42-30, but the Orangemen closed the half with a 13-5 burst for a 55-35 lead.