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Men's Basketball

Long Beach State Goes For Big West Perfection

Files associated with this release:
Men's Basketball Release No. 17

2/27/2012

Long Beach State aims to become the ninth men's basketball squad in Big West history to finish conference play undefeated.  The 49ers (21-7, 14-0), having already wrapped up the regular season title and tournament No. 1 seed, face two more obstacles to that achievement as they host UC Irvine and travel to Cal State Fullerton this week.

NOTEWORTHY

KEEP AN EYE ON

Adam Folker, UC Irvine
Folker has emerged as a key contributor for UC Irvine.  He carried the Anteaters to a 94-85 overtime victory against Cal State Northridge Saturday, scoring a career-high 28 points on 11 of 14 shooting.  Folker had the game-tying basket with 4.1 seconds left in regulation and the first seven points in overtime, leading to an 11-2 advantage in the extra period.  The 28 points were the most by an Anteater this season, and marked the seventh straight game that Folker has reached double figures in scoring.  The junior center is averaging 14.6 points and 7.3 rebounds over the last seven games.  In conference games only, Folker leads all Big West players with a .612 (60 of 98) field goal percentage.

MORE NOTABLES

Long Beach State Wraps Up Another League Title
Long Beach State improved to 14-0 in Big West play and solidified its second consecutive regular season championship following home victories against UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside last week.  The 49ers won back-to-back championships for the first time since 1969-77 when the program reeled off eight straight titles.

The 49ers also secured the Big West Tournament’s No. 1 seed for next week’s festivities at Honda Center.  They are guaranteed to play No. 8 seed UC Davis at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 8 in quarterfinal action.

LBSU’s 14 straight Big West victories represents the best start to a conference schedule in school history, replacing the 1973-74 squad that finished with an unblemished 12-0 record.

At 21-7 overall, Long Beach State has won 14 of its last 15 and 17 of its last 19 games.

Sizing Up Long Beach State’s 14-0 Beginning
Long Beach State is only the seventh team in Big West/PCAA history to begin conference play at least 14-0.  The others are as follows:

Year          School                   League Start
2004-05    Pacific                     18-0
1991-92    UNLV                      18-0
1990-91    UNLV                      18-0
1986-87    UNLV                      18-0
1999-00    Utah State              16-0
2011-12    Long Beach State   14-0 (finished ???)
1982-83    UNLV                      14-0 (finished 15-1)

It Must Be Mentioned...
Only eight teams have previously finished Big West/PCAA play with an undefeated record.  The most recent squads to do so included Pacific in 2004-05 (18-0) and Utah State in 1999-2000 (16-0), the only two unblemished marks in the last 20 years.  Long Beach State is two wins away from becoming the ninth team, needing to defeat UC Irvine at home and Cal State Fullerton on the road this week.  The 49ers are 28-2 in regular season league play over the last two seasons.  The complete list of undefeated conference teams is as follows:

Year         School                    Record
2004-05    Pacific                     18-0
1991-92    UNLV                      18-0
1990-91    UNLV                      18-0
1986-87    UNLV                      18-0
1999-00    Utah State               16-0
1973-74    Long Beach State   12-0
1970-71    Long Beach State    10-0
1969-70    Long Beach State    10-0

History Lesson
In the event Long Beach State succeeds in going undefeated in conference play, the question becomes whether the wins will keep coming at the Big West Tournament.  Since the tournament’s inception in 1976, four teams have run the table in league play and went on to participate in the NCAA Tournament.  Three of those four won the Big West/PCAA Tournament to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championship – UNLV (1986-87 & 1990-91) and Utah State (1999-2000).  The one team that did not automatically qualify – Pacific (2004-05) – lost in the tournament final to Utah State but earned an at-large bid to the NCAA’s.  This year’s Long Beach State squad has played the nation’s No. 1 non-conference strength of schedule. 

Streak Chatter
Long Beach State sports some impressive streaks entering the final weekend of regular season play.

• The 49ers have won 22 straight regular season games against Big West opponents.  They last lost a conference regular season game on Jan. 22, 2011 to UC Irvine.

• The 49ers have won 21 consecutive games overall in the Walter Pyramid, including a 11-0 record this season.  They have not lost at home since falling to Loyola Marymount on Nov. 27, 2010.

• LBSU has been victorious in 11 straight Big West road games.  The streak started after that Jan. 22, 2011 loss to UCI.

• Defense has keyed much of these streaks.  LBSU is 19-0 this season when it holds a team below the 70-point mark.

Cal State Fullerton Goes For Win No. 20
Cal State Fullerton suffered a setback in its first attempt at win No. 20 when it fell, 78-75, at UC Davis Saturday.  The Titans saw their six-game winning streak crash to a halt in falling to an Aggie squad that has won four of its last six following an 18-game losing streak.  The Titans host Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State this week and enter play tied with UC Santa Barbara for second place in the Big West with 10-4 records.  Head coach Bob Burton has led four previous Titan squads to 20 wins, the last coming during the 2007-08 season. 

Johnson Becomes Gaucho All-Time Leading Scorer
UC Santa Barbara senior guard Orlando Johnson became the school’s career scoring leader during Saturday’s win over rival Cal Poly at The Thunderdome.  Johnson surpassed former record holder Alex Harris (2004-08), who scored 1,696 points in four seasons.  It took Johnson less than three full seasons.  The 6-5 guard finished the game with 16 points to increase his career total to 1,710.  Counting his freshman season at Loyola Marymount, Johnson has scored 2,093 points as a collegiate player.
 
Ware Moves Up To Eighth In Big West Career Assists...
Long Beach State’s Casper Ware, a two-time finalist for the Bob Cousy Award to honor the nation’s top point guard, vaulted two spots to No. 8 on the Big West career assists list last week.  Ware’s 517 helpers are the most by a Big West player in 18 years.  He is 21 away from the No. 7 slot currently held by Wayne Williams (1988-91) of Cal State Fullerton.

Davis II Ties Big West Single-Game Blocks Record
UC Irvine freshman Will Davis II tied a Big West single-game record with eight blocked shots in Saturday’s win against Cal State Northridge.  Three others share the record, including UC Santa Barbara senior Greg Somogyi, who had eight swats versus Fresno State on Feb. 20, 2010.  For Davis, who leads the Big West with 1.8 blocks per game, the performance increased his total to 51 on the season and put him just two away from the UCI single-season record.

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