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Men's Basketball

Big West Men's Basketball Tournament Pairings Determined

Files associated with this release:
12_MB_Bracket.pdf
Men's Basketball Release No. 18

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Big West Tournament Ticket Information

3/3/2012

2012 Big West Men's Basketball Tournament Central

The pairings for the 2012 Big West Men's Basketball Tournament have been finalized as quarterfinal action begins at Honda Center on Thursday, March 8.

Despite coming up short in its quest for an undefeated conference season, Big West regular season champion Long Beach State is the top seed and meets No. 8 seed UC Davis at 6:00 p.m.   The 49ers enter the tournament 22-8 overall and 15-1 in the Big West.  They fell 77-74 to Cal State Fullerton in Saturday's regular season finale.  LBSU, which secured its second consecutive regular season title, looks to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007.

Cal State Fullerton pinned down the No. 2 seed thanks to Saturday's triumph, which also snapped Long Beach State's 23-game Big West win streak.  The Titans finished with an undefeated (8-0) conference home record and improved to 21-8 overall.  The Titans square off against Orange County rival and No. 7 seed UC Irvine at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.  CSF last appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 2008.  UCI is looking to make its first trip to the NCAA's.

Two-time defending Big West Tournament champion UC Santa Barbara enters as the No. 3 seed.  The Gauchos have won six of their last seven and nine of their last 11 games to improve to 18-7 overall.  UCSB won the 2010 and 2011 tournament titles as a No. 1 and No. 5 seed, respectively.  The Gauchos tangle with Pacific in the quarterfinals for the second straight year as the Tigers claimed the No. 6 seed.  UCSB defeated Pacific, 79-67, in the 2011 quarterfinals.  The two teams tip off all the action at Honda Center at noon.

The final quarterfinal game pits No. 4 seed Cal Poly against No. 5 seed UC Riverside at approximately 8:30 p.m. in what represents another rematch from the 2011 tournament.  The Highlanders notched a four-point win in overtime to knock off the Mustangs.  Coincidentally, UCR's three all-time Big West Tournament victories have occurred against Cal Poly.  The Mustangs have clinched their first winning season since 2006-07 as they bring a 17-14 record into the tournament.

The 2012 Big West Tournament continues on Friday, March 9 with semifinal games at 6:30 and 9:00 p.m.  ESPNU will air the 6:30 p.m. game on a delayed basis following the live broadcast of the 9:00 p.m contest.  However, fans who wish to watch the 6:30 p.m. game live may do so on ESPN3.

The championship game on Saturday, March 10 tips off at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN2.

NOTEWORTHY

KEEP AN EYE ON

James Nunnally, UC Santa Barbara
Nunnally is playing his best basketball all season as UC Santa Barbara gears up for a shot at a potential third straight NCAA Tournament berth.  The two-time second team all-conference senior has scored 20 points or more in four of the last five games for the Gauchos to push his season average to 15.9 points per game, good for No. 5 in the Big West.  Nunnally scored 21 points against UC Davis in Saturday’s regular season finale to become the fifth player in UCSB history to eclipse 1,600 points for his career and move into the fourth spot on the all-time career list with 1,619.  Nunnally sank a combined 11 three-pointers in last week’s wins versus Pacific and UCD.

MORE NOTABLES

Long Beach State Denied Undefeated Big West Season

Long Beach State came up one game short of fulfilling its quest for an undefeated Big West season, falling 77-74 to Cal State Fullerton Saturday to finish with a 15-1 league record.  The 49ers still won the Big West regular season championship by three games over the Titans and UC Santa Barbara, and enter the conference tournament as the No. 1 seed.  They face No. 8 seed UC Davis on Thursday, March 8 at 6:00 p.m. to begin a new quest for an automatic NCAA Tournament berth, which is awarded to the Big West Tournament champion.

The 49ers were further damaged in the loss to the Titans as senior guard Larry Anderson sprained his right knee and missed the final 14:27 of the game.  Anderson, a three-time All-Big West selection and the 2011-12 Big West Defensive Player of the Year, is doubtful for this week’s conference tournament.

Despite the setback, the 49ers are only the sixth team in Big West history to start the conference schedule at least 15-0.  They won back-to-back championships for the first time since 1969-77 when the program reeled off eight straight titles, and have secured their second consecutive 20-plus win season. 

Best Conference Starts In Big West History
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 15-0 (finished 15-1)
1982-83 UNLV 14-0 (finished 15-1)

Lucky No. 13?

A handful of teams throughout Big West history have finished conference play either undefeated or with one loss – Long Beach State is No. 13 on that list.  Of course, that doesn’t guarantee ultimate success in the Big West Tournament.  Four of the last five teams – Pacific (18-0, 2004-05), Utah State (17-1, 2003-04), UC Irvine (15-1, 2000-01) and Long Beach State (15-1, 1999-2000) – to do so lost in the conference tournament and did not earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.   Of those four, only the 2004-05 Pacific squad received an NCAA at-large bid.  The Tigers went 18-0 in Big West play that year and finished 27-4 overall, and took advantage of the at-large reward with a first round win over Pittsburgh in the NCAA Tournament.

Defensive Mindset
Long Beach State is 20-0 this season when limiting its opponent to below 70 points in a game.  The last time the 49ers lost a game when they held an opponent under that mark was in last year’s Big West Tournament championship, a 64-56 setback to UC Santa Barbara.

Honda Center Hosts Big West Tournament

Honda Center is in its second year as the host facility for the Big West Tournament.  Year one was a success as 15,396 fans attended the 2011 event, representing a 47% increase over 2010.  The total attendance for last year’s men’s and women’s championship games, 6,474, was a single-day increase of 68% over 2010. 

Titans Hot Entering Big West Tournament

Cal State Fullerton has won eight of its last nine and 11 of its last 13 contests heading into the Big West Tournament.  The two defeats came to teams at the opposite ends of the spectrum – regular season champion Long Beach State (75-61 on Jan. 28) and last place UC Davis (78-75 on Feb. 25).   Other than those two blips, the Titans have been a nightmare for opponents.  They knocked down a single-game school record 17 three-pointers (in 26 attempts) to race past UC Santa Barbara, 99-86, on Feb. 4 and ended Long Beach State’s 23 game win streak against Big West opponents in regular season games with last Saturday’s 77-74 triumph in Titan Gym.

The Titans are 12-0 this season when they make 10 or more three-pointers in a game.  As the Big West leader with 8.7 threes made per game, Cal State Fullerton has made eight or more in 12 of its last 13 outings.

Gauchos Aim For Third Straight Tourney Title
UC Santa Barbara attempts to become the first program to win three consecutive conference tournament championship since UNLV did so from 1989-91 when the Big West was then known as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (PCAA).  The Gauchos were the first No. 5 seed in league history to hoist the crown when they won in 2011, and owned the No. 1 seed in 2010.

And Should They Succeed...
UC Santa Barbara hopes to be the first Big West program since Pacific (2004-06) to make three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament.

Dynamite Pair
Two prolific scorers at UC Santa Barbara are nearing the end of their careers and want to go out on a celebratory note as seniors.  Orlando Johnson, who became the all-time Gaucho scoring leader in just three seasons, has scored 1,754 points.  He is joined by James Nunnally with 1,619 career points and the school’s No. 4 all-time scorer.  The duo has combined for 969 of UCSB’s 1,979 points this season, or 49 percent of the total offense.

Phelps Sits On 1,000 Point Doorstep
Long Beach State senior Eugene Phelps is a mere three points away from joining a trio of teammates in the millenium club.  With 997 career points, Phelps is a member of the 49er senior foursome that includes Casper Ware (1,758), T.J. Robinson (1,678) and Larry Anderson (1,533).  He is looking to become the 22nd player in LBSU history to reach the 1,000 point career plateau.
 
Robinson Big West All-Time Rebounding Leader
Long Beach State senior T.J. Robinson is the Big West career rebounding leader with 1,169.  He unseated Cal State Fullerton’s Tony Neal (1,115, 1981-85) from the top perch earlier this season.  Robinson also is one of just four players in Big West history – Neal, UNLV’s Stacey Augmon and Utah State Greg Grant – to have collected 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career.

Ware Among Big West Top 10 in Assists, Free Throws

Senior Casper Ware, the two-time Big West Player of the Year, is one of 11 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award that honors the nation’s top point guard.  The Long Beach State standout ranks eighth in the Big West career record book with 528 career assists and ninth in free throw makes with 440.