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Men's Basketball

Long Beach State Travels To No. 9 Pittsburgh For ESPNU Game

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Men's Basketball Release No. 2


Long Beach State's first of several encounters against nationally ranked programs begins on Wednesday when the 49ers travel to No. 9 Pittsburgh for a 6:00 p.m. (PST) game on ESPNU.



Stephan Hicks, Cal State Northridge
Hicks is part of the youngest team in Division I as the Matadors have 18 players with 12 years of combined collegiate experience, an average of 0.67 years.  Hicks, a 6-5 redshirt freshman guard, appears ready to take on a primary role for CSUN if the first two games of his career are any evidence.  In the Matador season opener against USC, Hicks scored a game-high 19 points and added team-best eight rebounds while making all eight of his free throw attempts.  He fared even better in his next performance at Hawai’i in front of a nationally televised audience as part of ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.  Hicks erupted for 22 points and 17 rebounds while shooting 9-of-21 from the field.  He is averaging 20.5 points and 12.5 rebounds through two contests.


Long Beach State Travels To No. 9 Pittsburgh
The Big West schedule this week features 15 games against non-conference foes, with the marquee matchup pitting Long Beach State against Pittsburgh.  The game kicks off a brutal stretch of competition in which four of the next eight 49er opponents are currently ranked in the top 12 nationally.  The Panthers are No. 9 in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls, while the 49ers are receiving votes from both entities.  LBSU’s run of big name opponents includes No. 1 North Carolina on Dec. 10 in Chapel Hill.  In addition to playing at Pittsburgh, Long Beach State faces another formidable challenge on Saturday at San Diego State.  While currently unranked, the Aztecs reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last year.

Date        Opponent              Current Ranking
Nov. 16    at Pittsburgh           #9 AP/#9 USA Today
Nov. 28    at Louisville             #8 AP/#7 USA Today
Dec. 6      at Kansas               #12 AP/#11 USA Today
Dec. 10    at North Carolina    #1 AP/#1 USA Today
Dec. 23    vs. Xavier               #13 AP/#14 USA Today

Great First Impressions
Six of the nine Big West schools won their season openers last week.  Cal Poly defeated San Jose State and Long Beach State downed Idaho to give the Big West a pair of wins against Western Athletic Conference teams.  Meanwhile, UC Santa Barbara won its season opener for the ninth consecutive year as the Gauchos dealt Chapman a 74-48 loss.  The Gauchos, which open the season with six straight home games, host Santa Clara on Tuesday and Westmont on Friday.

Favorite Long Beach State Takes On All Comers
Long Beach State, led by 2010-11 Big West Player of the Year Casper Ware and all-conference first team pick Larry Anderson, was picked to win this year’s regular season conference championship by a 24-member media voting panel.  The 49ers earned 20 first-place votes and 212 points, outdistancing second place UC Santa Barbara, which received the other four first-place nods and 196 points. Cal Poly came in third with 158 points and Cal State Fullerton was fourth with 131 points.  UC Riverside, Pacific, UC Davis, Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine rounded out the poll.  Long Beach State is tackling one of, if not the toughest non-conference schedules in the country after coming off a 22-12 season that ended in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.

Williams Approaches School Record
UCSB head coach Bob Williams is 218-170 in his 14th season at the helm.  He needs just five wins to supplant Jerry Pimm as the winningest coach in school history.
Thomason Moves Closer To Record
Pacific toppled Cal State Monterey Bay 75-63 on Sunday to improve head coach Bob Thomason’s career record to 404-290.  The win inched him one more closer to tying and two from surpassing the Big West record for most all-time victories by a head coach.  Jerry Tarkanian won 405 games during head coaching stops at Long Beach State and UNLV.  The Tigers hope to secure Thomason’s record-tying victory at Nevada on Thursday.  Looking ahead, Pacific also hosts Cal State Dominguez Hills on Monday.  The Tigers have posted winning seasons under Thomason in seven out of the last eight years.  Thomason already is the Big West record holder for most conference victories (229) and tournament games coached (27).


Rk.    Coach, School                                   No.
1.      Jerry Tarkanian, LBSU & UNLV           405
2.      Bob Thomason, Pacific                     404
3.      Neil McCarthy, New Mexico State       248
4.      Jerry Pimm, UC Santa Barbara           222
5.      Bob Williams, UC Santa Barbara      218

Bold denotes active Big West head coach

Johnson, Ware Named To John R. Wooden Watch List
The past two Big West Players of the Year are now up for college basketball’s most prestigious honor, as Orlando Johnson of UC Santa Barbara and Casper Ware of Long Beach State were named to the 2011-12 John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List.  The duo represents the first Big West players to be considered for the award since UC Irvine’s Jerry Green in the 2001-02 season.  Johnson, the 2009-10 Big West Player of the Year, led the league last season in scoring for the second straight time, averaging 21.1 points and scoring a single-season school record 673 points.  He was named First Team National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District 9, the United States Basketball Writers of America (USBWA) All-District Team, Lou Henson Mid-Major All-American and Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American.  Ware became the first player in league history to capture Big West Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year accolades in the same season, as his phenomenal 2010-11 campaign included 17.2 points, 4.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game.  He ranked second in the Big West in scoring and assists, and fourth in steals.  Ware’s postseason accolades included NABC First Team All-District 9, USBWA All-District Team, the 2011 Lefty Driesell Defensive All-America Team and 2011 Lou Henson Mid-Major All-American.

Welcome Back Will
Cal Poly senior Will Taylor showed no rust from redshirting the 2010-11 season as the forward nabbed a career-high 13 rebounds and tied his career best with 12 points in the Mustangs’ season-opening 79-52 victory against San Jose State.  The win put the Mustangs just two away from compiling their 200th victory at the Division I level.  Cal Poly’s first win as a Division I program was a 62-59 triumph over Menlo College on Jan. 11, 1995.

Umipig’s Stellar Effort
Isiah Umipig began his sophomore season at Cal State Fullerton with a torrid effort against Redlands, scoring a career-high 34 points including eight three-point field goal makes in a 118-68 victory.  The guard scored 17 points in each half and shot 11 of 16 overall, including 8-for-12 from behind the arc.  Umipig’s outburst helped the Titans post the second-most points in school history, surpassed only by a 128-point effort against Chapman in 1972.

Face Of The Future
UC Irvine’s youth effort – eight freshmen and no seniors on a 14-player roster – foretells solid things in the future for head coach Russell Turner and crew.  The early emergence of 6-8 freshman Will Davis II is cause for excitement.  He pulled down nine boards in each of UCI’s first two games and had 12 points against San Jose State.