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Men's Basketball

Nonconference Play Finishes Up With Long Beach State Trip To Islands

Files associated with this release:
Men's Basketball Release No. 7

12/19/2011

A final rush of nonconference games fills the men's basketball schedule this week as Long Beach State faces No. 14 Xavier in the opening game of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawai'i.  The Musketeers represent the fifth top 25 opponent for the 49ers.  Cal Poly travels to DePaul looking to match the 2001-02 squad (9-3) for best 12-game start in school history.

NOTEWORTHY

KEEP AN EYE ON

Orlando Johnson, UC Santa Barbara
Johnson leads the Big West in scoring at 22.4 points per game and is poised to become the first three-time scoring champion in league history.  He led the conference in scoring with 18.0 ppg as a sophomore and upped that average to 21.1 ppg his junior season.  In his senior campaign, Johnson is showing no signs of slowing down.  He has scored 20 points or more in six of UC Santa Barbara’s eight games with three of those performances – (36 - UNLV, 26 - San Diego State, 24 - Washington) coming against the three most formidable opponents on the schedule.  Johnson already ranks ninth in Gaucho history with 1,393 points in just two-plus seasons.  He is seven points from surpassing York Gross (1979-83) for the No. 8 spot and 29 shy of No. 7 currently occupied by Branduinn Fullove (2000-04).

MORE NOTABLES

Ware Named Bob Cousy Award Candidate
Long Beach State senior Casper Ware was one of nearly 60 players to be named a candidate for the Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award, as announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.  This is the second straight season Ware has been picked for the initial list.  He ended up as one of 20 finalists during a 2010-11 season that resulted in his selection as the Big West Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.  Ware is having an outstanding campaign with top notch performances against high profile opponents.  He scored a career-high 28 points in a win at No. 9 Pittsburgh on Nov. 16, then topped that effort with a new career-best of 29 points against No. 4 North Carolina on Dec. 10.  Ware, who ranks third in the Big West with 4.2 assists per game, is closing in on joining the conference’s top 10 with 469 career assists.

Lizarraga Granted Season Of Competition Waiver
Cal State Northridge forward Michael Lizarraga, who averaged 3.5 points and 2.7 rebounds as a senior during the 2010-11 season, was granted a season of competition waiver by the NCAA and is eligible to play for the Matadors for the final 20 games of this season.  CSUN petitioned for the extra season as Lizarraga played in just seven games for a combined total of 35 minutes his freshman season.  As the nation’s only deaf NCAA Division I men’s basketball student-athlete, Lizarraga received national attention from several national publications and was an inspiration to many over the course of his CSUN career.  Now that his collegiate basketball career has been extended, Lizarraga’s return paid immediate dividends against Pacifica College on Saturday.  In 16 minutes off the bench, Lizarraga posted 10 points on 5 of 10 shooting and added seven rebounds in a 99-58 Matador victory.

Three Teams Search For First Road Wins

With the non-conference schedule winding down, a handful of Big West teams are looking to post their first road wins of the 2011-12 season.  UC Davis, UC Irvine and Pacific are a combined 0-14 in road contests this season, but all three schools have an opportunity to reverse their fortunes this week.  The Aggies make trips to San Jose State on Tuesday and Southern Utah on Thursday with the added incentive of ending a six-game losing streak.  The Anteaters finish off a three-game roadtrip with a Tuesday matchup against UCLA at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.  After falling by two points in overtime to Santa Clara on Saturday, the Tigers are chomping at the chance to play at Cal State Bakersfield on Saturday.

Road Success For Two Teams
Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton are the Big West’s two most successful road squads – each posting a 3-1 record.

Williams Ties Wins Record
Bob Williams moved into a tie with Jerry Pimm for the UC Santa Barbara career victories record as the Gauchos eked out a 65-61 road victory on Tuesday.  The triumph gave Williams career win No. 222 as he also joined Pimm as the fourth-winningest coach in Big West history.  Pimm compiled a 222-202 mark in 15 seasons at UCSB, while Williams is 222-173 in his 14th year of service with the Gauchos.  He looks to take over sole possession of the school record with a pair of games this week, including Monday at California and Thursday at BYU.

ALL-TIME VICTORY LEADERS - BIG WEST TENURE
Rk. Coach, School No.
1. Bob Thomason, Pacific 407
2. Jerry Tarkanian, LBSU & UNLV 405
3. Neil McCarthy, New Mexico State 248
4. Bob Williams, UC Santa Barbara 222
  Jerry Pimm, UC Santa Barbara 222
     
Bold denotes active Big West head coach

Robinson Attempts To Join 1,000 Rebound Club
Long Beach State senior T.J. Robinson is about to become one of the select few in Big West history in terms of rebounding achievements.  The 6-8 forward, the Big West active leader in career rebounds with 959, is a mere 41 away from becoming just the fourth player in conference history to gather 1,000 boards.  Robinson is aiming to join the company of Cal State Fullerton’s Tony Neal (1981-85), the record holder with 1,115 rebounds, as well as UNLV’s Stacey Augmon (1,005 - 1988-91) and Utah State’s Greg Grant (1,003 - 1983-86).  Robinson is also bidding to join that same group as the only players in Big West history to finish their careers with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.  Robinson is the league’s active career leader with 1,437 points.

BIG WEST CAREER REBOUNDS
Rk. Player, School Yrs. No.
1. Tony Neal, Cal State Fullerton 1981-85 1,115
2. Stacey Augmon, UNLV 1988-91  1,005
3. Greg Grant, Utah State 1983-86 1,003
4. Ron Cornelius, Pacific 1978-81 973
5. T.J. Robinson, Long Beach State 2008-present 959
          
Fullerton Off To Solid Start
Cal State Fullerton extended its winning streak to four straight games with an 86-44 blowout of La Verne on Saturday.  The win improved the Titans’ record to 7-3, matching the program’s best start since the 2007-08 season.  In the midst of a five-game homestand, the Titans return to action on Thursday against Portland State before beginning Big West play with matchups against UC Davis and Pacific.

49ers Take On Fifth Ranked Opponent
Long Beach State closes out a brutal non-conference slate with its participation in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawai’i this week.  The 49ers tackle their fifth top 25 opponent in No. 14 Xavier in the opening game of the three-day tournament on Friday.  Other teams in the field include UTEP, Clemson, Kansas State, Southern Illinois, Auburn and host Hawai’i.  The 49ers have faced No. 9 Pittsburgh, No. 6 Louisville, No. 13 Kansas and No. 4 North Carolina in non-conference play.

LONG BEACH STATE NON-LEAGUE OPPONENTS
Date Opponent *Ranking Result
Nov. 16 at Pittsburgh #9 AP/#9 USA Today W, 86-76
Nov. 28 at Louisville #6 AP/#6 USA Today L, 66-79
Dec. 6 at Kansas #13 AP/#13 USA Today L, 80-88
Dec. 10 at North Carolina #4 AP/#6 USA Today L, 78-84
Dec. 22 vs. Xavier  #14 AP/#15 USA Today  

* Ranking at time that game was played