Big West champion Long Beach State earned the No. 12 seed and drew No. 5 seed New Mexico in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, as the bracket was announced by the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee Sunday.
The 49ers and Lobos meet on Thursday at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore. in a West Region matchup at approximately 1:10 p.m. (PDT). The game will be televised by TBS.
LBSU (25-8, 15-1 Big West) secured an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as the champion of the Big West Tournament. The top-seeded 49ers won their fifth conference tournament title (1977, 1993, 1995, 2007, 2011) with a 77-64 victory against No. 3 seed UC Santa Barbara on Saturday.
It is Long Beach State's ninth NCAA Tournament appearance, the most among current Big West members. The 49ers are 7-9 all-time in NCAA games. They last appeared in the tournament in 2007 as a No. 12 seed in the South Regional. LBSU is looking for its first win in the Big Dance since 1973.
Big West Tournament MVP and two-time conference Player of the Year Casper Ware leads the 49ers into battle against New Mexico. Ware leads the Big West in three-pointers made (2.8 pg), and ranks third in scoring (17.4 ppg), fourth in steals (1.4 spg), fifth in assists (3.3 apg), eighth in free throw percentage (.797). LBSU also has all-conference first team honorees Larry Anderson (Big West Defensive Player of the Year) and T.J. Robinson, and second team pick Eugene Phelps.
The winner of LBSU-UNM meets No. 4 seed Louisville or No. 13 seed Davidson in third round action on Saturday. LBSU traveled to Louisville on Nov. 28 and lost 79-66.
The 49ers, who played the nation's toughest non-conference schedule, faced eight teams in this year's NCAA Tournament field – No. 1 seed North Carolina, No. 2 seed Kansas, No. 4 seed Louisville, No. 6 seed San Diego State, No. 8 seeds Kansas State and Creighton, No. 10 seed Xavier, and No. 13 Montana.
KEEP AN EYE ON
James Ennis, Long Beach State
Ennis garnered a spot on the Big West All-Tournament Team as his versatility helped Long Beach State to the championship last weekend at Honda Center. Playing an increased role in the absence of Larry Anderson, who sat out the Big West Tournament with a sprained knee, Ennis averaged 13.0 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 47.8% (11 of 23) from the field and 81.3% (13 of 16) at the free throw line in wins against UC Davis, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara. In the championship against the Gauchos, the junior produced 15 points and four rebounds in 35 minutes. On a team with four senior starters, Ennis has contributed significantly to its success and especially so on defense. He ranks second in the Big West in steals (1.6 spg).
Long Beach State Reaches NCAA Tournament
Long Beach State last week completed a journey of sorts in clinching the Big West Tournament championship. The top-seeded 49ers avenged losses to UC Santa Barbara in the 2010 and 2011 title games, handing the Gauchos a 77-64 defeat Saturday at Honda Center. The tourney title, Long Beach State’s first since 2007, allowed seniors Casper Ware, Larry Anderson, T.J. Robinson and Eugene Phelps to get their first taste of the NCAA Tournament as the Big West automatic qualifier.
The four seniors have started a combined 432 games since arriving on the Long Beach State campus in 2008. They are now prepared to be part of the program’s ninth NCAA Tournament appearance (7-9 all-time). LBSU, a No. 12 seed in the West Region, battles No. 5 seed and No. 22-ranked New Mexico in second round action Thursday at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore. The 49ers are searching for their first NCAA win since 1973.
49er Senior Statesmen
One Away From Perfection
In addition to playing the nation’s No. 1 ranked non-conference strength of schedule, Long Beach State dominated the Big West ledger to secure back-to-back regular season championships for the first time since 1969-77 when the program reeled off eight straight titles. The 49ers finished 15-1 with their only setback occurring in the regular season finale against Cal State Fullerton.
Long Beach State is only the sixth team in league history to begin conference play 15-0.
Best Conference Starts In Big West History
Long Beach State
15-0 (finished 15-1)
14-0 (finished 15-1)
Doing It With Defense
Long Beach State is 23-0 this season when limiting its opponent to under 70 points. The 49ers have won just twice this season when allowing 70 or more – at Pittsburgh (86-76, 11/16) and at UC Riverside (77-70, Jan. 26) in overtime.
Ware’s Remarkable Career
Long Beach State senior Casper Ware turned in one of the more impressive performances in Big West Tournament history, saving his best for the championship game when he erupted for 33 points and hit eight three-pointers against UC Santa Barbara. The 33 points tied him for seventh-most in Big West Tournament single-game history, while the eight treys tied him for third-most. Ware averaged 22.0 points in three tournament games to unanimously win Most Valuable Player honors.
Ware is the Big West active career leader with 1,824 points and 539 assists. In addition, he has achieved the following during his four-year career:
• Only one of seven individuals to win back-to-back Big West Player of the Year awards. Ware is the first to do so since UC Irvine’s Jerry Green in 2001-02.
• In 2010-11, became the first in Big West history to capture Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the same season.
• Made the list of 11 finalists this season for the Bob Cousy Award, honoring the nation’s top point guard.
• In the Big West career record book, ranks No. 7 in both assists (539) and free throw makes (451).
Robinson Big West All-Time Rebounding Leader
Long Beach State senior T.J. Robinson is the Big West career rebounding leader with 1,194. 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.
Phelps Fourth 49er To Join Millenium Club
Long Beach State senior Eugene Phelps became the 22nd player in school history to score 1,000 career points, surpassing the mark in the Big West Tournament quarterfinal win over UC Davis. His career total is now at 1,024 entering the NCAA Tournament. He joins teammates Casper Ware, T.J. Robinson and Larry Anderson on that 1,000 point list.
Current 49ers With 1,000 Career Points
Cal State Fullerton, UC Santa Barbara Invited To CIT
Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara, who both won 20 games and tied for second place in the Big West regular season standings, get to play postseason basketball as members of the 32-team CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament field. The Titans, making their first postseason appearance since a run to the 2007 NCAA Tournament, travel to nearby Loyola Marymount for a first round game Wednesday. The Gauchos, who play at Idaho on Wednesday, are coming off two straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Pacific had success in the CIT, making it to the semifinals in 2009 and to the championship game in 2010.
One of the most prolific scoring duos in Big West history look to do more damage in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. UC Santa Barbara seniors Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally have combined for 3,466 career points. Johnson, the all-time Gaucho scoring leader, has compiled 1,806 points in just three seasons. Nunnally is No. 4 all-time with 1,660 points. The duo has combined for 1,062 of UCSB’s 2,179 points this season, or 48.7 percent of the total offense.