Long Beach State (9-13) at UC Riverside (8-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 8, 10 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: SRC Arena (3,168) -- Riverside, California. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: LBSU 6-3, UCR 6-5. Away Record: LBSU 3-7, UCR 2-9. Neutral Record: LBSU 0-3, UCR 0-0. Conference Record: LBSU 5-3, UCR 3-5. Series Record: Long Beach State leads, 30-9.
GAME NOTES: UC Riverside aims for back-to-back wins for just the second time this season, as the Highlanders host the Long Beach State 49ers in Big West Conference play at SRC Arena tonight.
The Highlanders produced a two-game win streak back in the middle of November with victories over Pepperdine and Montana State, but since then the squad has won just six more times. On Thursday night, UCR slipped by visiting Cal State Fullerton, 72-69, which means the program has won twice in the last three outings and is 3-5 in league play.
As for the 49ers, a team which is sitting alone in the third spot in the Big West with a record of 5-3, they too took part in a league bout that was decided by just three points two nights ago, but in their case they came up short versus UC Irvine (61-58). The loss snapped a four-game win streak.
In terms of the all-time series between these teams, LBSU is ahead by a comfortable 30-9 margin. The teams are slated to finish off the regular season against each other a month from now in Long Beach.
In a game that featured 10 ties and 11 lead changes, the 49ers found themselves tied with UC Irvine at the break on Thursday night, but that was before the visitors shot only 28.6 percent from the floor in the second half. Dan Jennings was responsible for 14 points and seven rebounds, followed by A.J. Spencer and Travis Hammonds with 10 points apiece, the latter adding 10 rebounds as well off the bench.
The leading scorer for the 49ers in three straight decisions coming into this week, Mike Caffey remains the overall scoring leader for the program with his 17.0 ppg. Caffey has made more 3-pointers (31) than anyone else on the roster, but his accuracy has him down at just 30.4 percent. Tyler Lamb (14.9 ppg) is more respectable out on the perimeter at 34.4 percent, but as a whole LBSU is converting a mere 28.6 percent from the outside.
Shooting a sizzling 63.0 percent from the field in the first half and leading by as many as 16 points in the period, the Highlanders nearly let one slip away on Thursday before holding on for the three-point win against Fullerton at home. Riverside spread the wealth as five players scored in double figures, led by Sam Finley and Taylor Johns with 13 points apiece. Steven Jones, Steven Thornton and Chris Patton all pitched in with 12 points, the latter also clearing 12 rebounds and handing out a team-best six assists.
A starter in just 12 of the 20 games in which he has appeared, Patton sits at the top of the scoring list for the Highlanders with his 13.3 ppg, thanks to 51.2 percent accuracy from the floor, adding 6.3 rpg and 1.4 apg, which means he went above and beyond versus the Titans. Johns (12.6 ppg) is responsible for a team-best 8.0 rpg and is also first with 44 of the unit's 92 blocked shots, but still it is difficult to get beyond the fact that he has connected on just 59.3 percent of his free-throw tries.
As long as UCR can get out in front in this meeting and force the visitors to try and claw their way back from behind the 3-point line, the hosts should be in good shape.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Riverside 69, Long Beach State 67
02/08 10:19:14 ET