Long Beach State (4-6) at UCLA (7-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 18, 11 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: New Pauley Pavilion (13,800) -- Los Angeles, California. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: LBSU 2-2, UCLA 5-1. Away Record: LBSU 2-4, UCLA 0-0. Neutral Record: LBSU 0-0, UCLA 2-2. Conference Record: LBSU 0-0, UCLA 0-0. Series Record: UCLA leads, 11-1.
GAMES NOTES: The UCLA Bruins will look to win three straight games for the first time this year when instate foe Long Beach State comes to Pauley Pavilion on Tuesday night.
After a three-game losing streak, Long Beach State finally got back into the win column with an 82-65 win at home against BYU Hawaii (82-65). The victory was the first since November for the 49ers who have suffered a pair of three- game losing streaks already this year. Long Beach State is 4-6 overall with two of those wins and four of the losses coming on the road. Next up Long Beach State returns home to open Big West Conference play against Pacific.
The Bruins are hoping that they have begun to turn a corner after a 95-63 victory over Prairie View A&M gave them back-to-back wins for just the second time this season. UCLA is now 7-3 overall after struggling through the early going of the campaign. At the newly revamped Pauley Pavilion the Bruins have managed to earn five wins in six tries with the lone setback coming in a less than impressive 70-68 loss to Cal Poly. This is the second game of a six-game homestand for the Bruins which continues against Fresno State on Saturday.
There has been just about zero parity in this in-state rivalry. The Bruins have won 11 of 12 previous meetings. However Long Beach State's only win did come in the last time these teams squared off during the 2009-10 season.
After a slow start Long Beach State ripped off a 12-0 run to secure a double digit lead in the first half against BYU Hawaii and from there coasted to victory. The 49ers shot at a 46.7 percent clip in the game and had a 48-29 edge in rebounds. Long Beach State did turn the ball over 22 times but outscored BYU Hawaii in points off turnovers (23-18) as well as in second chance points (24-6). James Ennis (29 points , 15 rebounds) and Mike Caffey (21 points, 11 rebounds) each had stellar efforts in the win.
Last season Long Beach State was one of the better offensive teams in the country but that has not been the case this season. The 49ers are scoring only 64.5 points per game and connecting on a meager 38.6 percent of their shots from the field. Failing to move the ball has been a major reason for the offensive regression as the team assists on only 10.4 field goals per game. Weak efforts on defense have also kept Long Beach State from piling up wins with the team allowing 73.2 points per game. Long Beach State has also been on the short end in rebounding (-4.1) despite bringing in a healthy 37.1 per game. Ennis (16.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg) was a starter last season and has done all he can from the frontcourt to keep Long Beach State in games. Caffey (10.9 ppg, 4.3 apg) is the only other player scoring in double figures but has hit just 29.5 percent of his shots this season. Caffey runs the point and is the only player averaging more than two assists per game. Dan Jennings (9.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg) is the third scoring option and a strong rebounder but there is a severe lack of scoring depth beyond that.
Like Long Beach State, UCLA eased its way to a win last time out. The Bruins connected on 55.9 percent of their shots from the field and outscored Prairie View A&M from beyond the arc (27-15) and the free throw line (20-4). The Bruins also held a massive 40-21 edge on the glass and a 30-10 advantage in points off turnovers. Shabazz Muhammad played one his best games in his young career by pouring in a career-high 25 points.
Offense hasn't really been much of an issue for UCLA this season. The Bruins are the second-highest scoring team in the Pac-12 (77.5 ppg), while connecting on a healthy 46.4 percent of their shots from the field. UCLA also dishes out 17.5 assists per game which leads the conference and ranks 10th nationally. On the other end the Bruins are allowing 66.2 points per game on an even 40.0 percent shooting by foes. The Bruins also clean the glass well by bringing in 40.5 rpg (31st nationally). Muhammad (17.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg) has largely lived up to his billing as a versatile player. Jordan Adams (16.9 ppg) has also been scoring points in bunches while alternating between playing in the starting lineup and coming off the bench, Travis Wear (10.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg) has scored in double figure consistently and is a strong rebounder. Kyle Anderson (8.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 3.7 apg) does a little bit of everything, while Larry Drew (5.3 ppg, 8.3 apg) is one of the best distributors in the country.
Muhammad and company were supposed to be one of the top teams in the country coming into this season. For the Bruins to get back into that discussion stringing wins together will need to be a priority. The Bruins have the talent to do so and an opponent in Long Beach State that doesn't have the type of depth or size to compete.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCLA 78, Long Beach State 65
12/18 10:33:04 ET