No. 4 Syracuse sets sights on Long Beach State

The fourth-ranked Syracuse Orange continue a five-game homestand when they host the Long Beach State 49ers in a non- conference bout at the Carrier Dome Thursday night.

This matchup with Syracuse continues what has been a rather tough schedule to start the season for Long Beach State. The 49ers have played four of their first six games on the road and have already faced a pair of ranked teams in No. 20 North Carolina and No. 8 Arizona, both losses. Overall the 49ers have just a 3-4 overall record but have split their four games on the road. The 49ers have another tough task ahead following this game, as the take on No. 7 Ohio State in Columbus.

After a 84-48 rout of Eastern Michigan, Syracuse has won 26 straight games at home and 47 straight regular season non-conference matchups. At 6-0 the Orange have risen to No. 4 in the current national rankings. The Orange began the season No. 9 in the polls and have not been out of the top-10 since the end of the 2010-2011 season. Syracuse will face Monmouth next at the Carrier Dome before opening the Gotham Classic.

There have been only two previous meetings between these teams, with both ending in Syracuse victories. The most recent was a 79-55 victory in the Carrier Dome during the 2008-09 season.

The 49ers let a 31-25 halftime lead slip away against instate rival Fresno State in a 64-59 loss in its last time out. Long Beach State shot 55.0 percent in the first half but managed to hit only 29.6 percent of its shots in the final 20 minutes including an 0-of-7 showing from 3-point range.Success from beyond the arc dictated the outcome as the 49ers were outscored 21-9 from long distance. James Ennis managed a 23-point, 13-rebound double-double in the losing effort.

Long Beach State has not had the type of offensive success it enjoyed last season as it is scoring only 65.0 points per game and shooting 40.1 percent from the field. Losing star point guard Casper Wells has also depreciated the team's ball movement as the 49ers only hand out 9.9 assists per game. Defensively the 49ers have held teams to 41.9 percent shooting but are still being outscored (-5.6) and topped on the boards (-4.2). James Ennis (16.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg) has taken the reins of the team as one of the few holdovers and has been putting together a strong season both in scoring and rebounding. Michael Caffey (11.4 ppg, 4.1 apg) took over for Wells at the point but has struggled to find his shot by connecting on only 29.2 percent of his field goal attempts. At 6-foot-7, Kris Gulley (8.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg) has the size to score and crash the glass.

Despite starting slow against Eastern Michigan, Syracuse was easily able to take down the Eagles by connecting on 51.4 percent of its shots in the second half. A game after tying the single-game record at Syracuse with nine 3- pointers, James Southerland missed all five of his shots from beyond the arc and finished with just six points. Syracuse had a 50-37 edge in rebounding and benefited from 24 turnovers by Eastern Michigan.

As might be expected of a team ranked so high, Syracuse has put up impressive numbers on both ends of the floor. Syracuse is scoring 80.8 points per game and shooting 46.8 percent from the field. The Orange also assist on 16.2 field goals per game and are out rebounding the opposition by a +9.0 margin. On the other end Syracuse has blanketed opposing teams surrendering only 33.7 points per game while allowing the second lowest field goal percentage (33.7) in the country. Southerland (16.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg) is a forward that spreads the floor with his ability to heat up from the outside. Brandon Triche (15.0 ppg, 3.3 apg) and Michael Carter Williams (11.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 9.5 apg, 3.7 spg) give the Orange a ton of talent and production out of the backcourt. C.J. Fair (10.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg), Rakeem Christmas (6.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and DaJuan Coleman (7.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg) give Jim Boeheim a nice rotation in the frontcourt as well.