Cal State Fullerton (11-19) vs. Long Beach State (14-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 13, 5:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Honda Center (17,608) -- Anaheim, California. Television: FSN-PT. Home Record: Fullerton 8-6, LBSU 9-4. Away Record: Fullerton 3-12, LBSU 5-9. Neutral Record: Fullerton 0-1, LBSU 0-3. Conference Record: Fullerton 6-10, LBSU 9-6. Series Record: Long Beach State leads, 64-44.
GAME NOTES: Just two years removed from winning it all in the Big West Conference Tournament, the Long Beach State 49ers hope to be a major player in the 39th annual event at the Honda Center today when they challenge the Cal State Fullerton Titans in quarterfinal-round action.
Long Beach State, the third seed in the tourney, played in the title game three straight years between 2010-12, but has only a 77-64 triumph over UC Santa Barbara in the most recent championship appearance to show for its efforts. The team owns a total of five trophies from the event and an overall record of 33-28 entering play today.
As for the Titans, the sixth seed, their overall experience in this tournament has not been quite as positive, sporting a record of 22-33 over the years. However, Fullerton does have a couple of crowns to its credit, the last one coming against UC Irvine in 2008 by a lopsided score of 81-66.
LBSU owns a 64-44 advantage in the all-time series between the programs, and is an impressive 7-1 against Fullerton during the Big West Tournament over the years, not to mention 1-0 in meetings that have taken place at the Honda Center.
The winner of this meeting will be back in action in the semifinals on Friday against an opponent to be determined based on the teams remaining and their seeding.
Providing the Titans with some scoring punch this season was Michael Williams who was named Big West Newcomer of the Year and picked up all-league second team honors as well after leading the program in scoring with 17.6 ppg. In conference play Williams made the jump to 19.7 ppg as he matched Alex Harris (17.7 ppg) with a team-best 41 3-pointers. However, beyond that duo the Titans don't have much in the way of significant, impact players because those two combined to account for more than half the unit's 69.0 ppg. Not only were Williams and Harris the go-to guys when the Titans needed points, they also were more than comfortable giving teammates opportunities, evidenced by their 79 combined assists.
While the 49ers also feature two players averaging double-digit scoring during Big West action this season, there seems to be much more of a supporting cast that has been key in earning the program a 10-6 record. Mike Caffey averaged more than 34 minutes per game as he tallied 15.5 ppg in those 16 league bouts, handing out an impressive 69 assists, but those numbers, along with 4.7 rpg, don't negate the fact that he shot only 28.8 percent behind the 3-point line. Tyler Lamb (14.1 ppg) was slightly better on the perimeter at 35.4 percent, but LBSU was far from a dominant outside shooting squad. Accounting for another 9.5 ppg as he started all but two league outings, was Dan Jennings who also pulled down 9.0 rpg and shot 64.1 percent from the floor, but just 55.6 percent at the free-throw line.
With so many more options to choose from on offense, the 49ers have to be considered the favorite to advance beyond today in the tournament. While Williams and Harris clearly dominate from a Fullerton perspective, having more of a balance after a long, grinding season may be the better option right now.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Long Beach State 71, Cal State Fullerton 66
03/13 10:33:36 ET