Long Beach State (5-7) at Cal Poly (5-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 3, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mott Gym (3,032) -- San Luis Obispo, California. Television: None. Home Record: LBSU 3-2, Cal Poly 3-1. Away Record: LBSU 2-5, Cal Poly 2-5. Neutral Record: LBSU 0-0, Cal Poly 0-0. Conference Record: LBSU 1-0, Cal Poly 1-0. Series Record: Cal Poly leads, 40-28.
GAME NOTES: The Long Beach State 49ers look to stay perfect in Big West Conference action as they visit Mott Gym to tangle with the Cal Poly Mustangs.
The 49ers recovered from an early deficit and took down UC Irvine, 58-48, in their conference opener on Saturday to improve to 5-7 overall and end a two- game losing slide. Long Beach State's losing record comes in part due to its tremendously difficult non-conference slate that featured four ranked opponents along with two more foes from power conferences. Coach Dan Monson's team, which only lost one game in league play all of last season, is scoring 65.2 points and grabbing 35.4 rebounds per contest, but its opposition is generating 73.7 points and 40.2 boards per outing.
Cal Poly is also 1-0 in the Big West standings after its 58-48 decision over UC Riverside on Saturday. The victory put the Mustangs just one game under the .500 mark with a 5-6 overall record, which includes a 3-1 record at Mott Gym. Coach Joe Callero, who earned his 50th win with the program in the conference opener, has found his team is better suited for slower paced contests. Cal Poly is scoring 64 ppg on 42 percent shooting from the field while allowing 63.6 ppg on 45.5 percent field goal accuracy.
This will be the 69th meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. LBSU holds a 40-28 all-time lead thanks to its current six-game winning streak in the series.
Long Beach State trailed Pacific by 11 points in the late stages of the first half, but it faced just a 26-21 deficit at the break after a late run before the break. The 49ers then heated up to connect on 60.9 percent of its field goals and outscore the visitors, 13-7, at the charity stripe to pull out the win. James Ennis and Mike Caffey scored 19 points each, Tony Freeland added 15 points, and Dan Jennings tallied 10 points. The 49ers should steadily improve as Freeland (DePaul) and Keala King (Arizona State) build chemistry with the rest of the bunch. The transfers became eligible last weekend and made their debut versus Pacific. King led the Sun Devils in scoring last season with 13.7 ppg. He will provide scoring support for LBSU, which is currently being paced by James Ennis (17.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg).
The Mustangs went into halftime of their bout against UC Riverside trailing, 29-23, thanks to a cold start where they managed to make 36 percent of their field goal tries in the opening 20 minutes. Cal Poly did not bolster its offensive performance after the break, but it used a 13-1 advantage at the free throw line and a strong defensive showing to coast to the 10-point decision. Kyle Odister scored a team-best 14 points in the contest. Cal Poly relies heavily on junior forward Chris Everly for production. The 6-7 forward is sixth among Big West players in scoring (15.5 ppg) and seventh in rebounds (7.5 rpg). Freshman forward Brian Bennett (9.8 ppg) is also doing a decent job filling it up on the inside.
Although Cal Poly has the homecourt advantage, the 49ers have a lot of potential to repeat as league champions due to the additions of Freeland and King. The Mustangs are better than average defensively, but they will not be able to keep up if Long Beach State starts to mesh as a unit.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Long Beach State 70, Cal Poly 62
01/03 10:42:49 ET