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Men's Basketball

Long Beach State Off To Best League Start In 10 Years

Files associated with this release:
Men's Basketball Release No. 11

1/17/2011

First place Long Beach State has opened Big West play 6-0, marking the program's best conference start since the 1999-2000 season.  The 49ers travel to Orange County rivals Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine this week.

NOTEWORTHY

KEEP AN EYE ON

Sam Willard, Pacific
Willard continued his dominating play with his 12th and 13th double-doubles in games against Cal State Bakersfield and Long Beach State last week.  He posted 15 points and a career-best 18 rebounds versus the Roadrunners, then notched a career-high 27 points to go along with 13 rebounds against the 49ers.  Willard ranks No. 3 nationally with his 13 double-doubles.  In addition, the senior is rapidly closing in on the 1,000-point career plateau, needing only 21 points to become the 26th Tiger to accomplish the feat.  With 758 rebounds, Willard is also on pace to become only the eighth player in Pacific history to amass at least 1,000 points and 800 rebounds in a career.

MORE NOTABLES

49ers Off To Best League Start Since 1999-2000
Long Beach State recorded victories against UC Davis and Pacific last week to bring its Big West record to 6-0 and maintain its perch atop the standings.  It is the best start in conference play for the 49ers since the 1999-2000 squad won nine straight games to begin Big West play.  The 49ers are winning by nearly an average of 10 points per game in league play, but eked out a couple of close ones last week.  After defeating UC Davis 60-56, Long Beach State overcame a late seven-point deficit to squeak out a 70-69 win against Pacific.

Logjam Of Teams Chase Long Beach State

Long Beach State takes a season-high six-game winning streak on the road to face league rivals Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine in this week’s Big West action.  UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly are tied for second place with 3-2 records.  The Gauchos travel to Cal State Fullerton for their only matchup of the week.  The Mustangs trek to UC Riverside and Cal State Northridge for a pair of road games.  The Saturday tilt against the Matadors will be televised on Fox Sports Prime Ticket.  UCR is in fourth place at 2-2, and three teams – Pacific, UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge – are tied for fifth place at 2-3.

Ware Named Finalist For Bob Cousy Award
Long Beach State junior Casper Ware is one of 20 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, presented to the nation’s top collegiate point guard.  The announcement was made by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.  Ware leads the Big West in assists (5.7 apg), ranks second in steals (1.9 spg) and ninth in scoring (14.8 ppg).  He has reached double figures in scoring in 15 of LBSU’s 19 games.  His 390 assists rank sixth in the Long Beach State career record book.

Central Coast Rivals To Locally Televise Games

The Blue-Green Rivalry between Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara will gain added exposure in the Central Coast market as both regular season conference matchups will be televised by local affiliates.  The Thursday, Jan. 27 game at 7:05 p.m. in San Luis Obispo will be carried by KSBY-TV.  The venue switches to UCSB’s Thunderdome for a Saturday, Mar. 5 game at 6:05 p.m.  KCOY-TV will provide all the action for that battle.

Johnson Among Leaders In Three Main Categories
Coming off a 2009-10 campaign in which he earned Big West Player of the Year honors, UC Santa Barbara guard Orlando Johnson has not rested on his laurels.  In fact, the junior has gotten even better.  He’s still scoring, evidenced by his league-best 19.4 points per game.  However, his rebounding has increased from 5.4 to 6.4 per game and his assists have improved from 2.3 to 3.0 per contest.  Johnson is the only Big West player to rank in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding and assists.  He’s also in the top 10 in field goal, free throw and three-point field goal percentage.

Honda Center New Home Of Tournament
Honda Center last November announced a five-year partnership with the Big West Conference to host its annual men’s and women’s post-season basketball tournament beginning in 2011.  Each year the winner of the three-day single-elimination playoff receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Big West and Honda Center have teamed up for “March Madness” and “The Road To The Final Four” on numerous occasions including men’s basketball regionals in 1998, 2001 and 2003 and first and second round action in 2008.  In addition, the Big West and Honda Center was selected as host of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball West Regional.

The Big West Tournament is the oldest NCAA Division I post-season basketball tournament in the west, dating back to 1976 when the conference was known as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association.

All-session tickets for the 2011 Big West Tournament may be purchased at hondacenter.com.  For more information, please call (714) 704-2500 or email bigwesttournament@hondacenter.com.  Courtside (first 4 rows) all-session tickets cost $144 apiece.  All other all-session tickets cost $64 apiece.

Willard, Nunnally Approaching Milestone
Five Big West players already have reached the 1,000-point career scoring milestone this season, and two more are poised to join the list.  Pacific’s Sam Willard has 979 career points and is just 21 shy of the landmark total.  UC Santa Barbara junior James Nunnally, the Big West’s No. 2 scorer this season at 18.2 points per game, needs 39 points to reach the milestone.

Robinson Joins Elite Company
Long Beach State junior T.J. Robinson joined alums Francois Wise and Michael Wiley as only the third player in school history to compile career totals of 1,000 points and 700 rebounds.  Robinson snared 14 rebounds over two games last week, and finished the week with 1,115 career points and 704 boards.  He ranks third in the LBSU career record book for rebounds.

Daniel Orders Up Another Double-Double
Cal State Northridge senior Lenny Daniel registered two more double-doubles last week to give him nine for the season and the second-most in the Big West.  He has posted a double-double in five of the last six and seven of the last nine games.  He had 13 points and 14 rebounds, one short of his career-high, against UC Riverside.  Daniel is No. 3 in the league in scoring (16.9 ppg) and rebounding (9.7 rpg).

Miscellaneous Musings
Through 23 conference games, eight have been decided by five points or less.  The road team has posted a respectable 11-12 record, led by Cal Poly and Long Beach State’s 2-0 road records.  The 49ers are 4-0 at home in league play, and are tied with Cal State Northridge for most home games played.

Follow Your Team On BigWest.TV
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