DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 4:05 p.m. (PT)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Titan Gym (4,000) -- Fullerton, California. Television: FSN-W. Home Record: LBSU 12-0, Fullerton 12-1. Away Record: LBSU 8-6, Fullerton 7-6. Neutral Record: LBSU 2-1, Fullerton 1-1. Conference Record: LBSU 15-0, Fullerton 11-4. Series Record: Long Beach State leads, 60-42.
GAME NOTES: Long Beach State is having an exceptional season at 22-7 overall, which includes a perfect 15-0 mark in conference -- the team already clinching the Big West regular-season title. With a 77-50 win over UC Irvine on Wednesday, the 49ers extended their conference winning streak to 23 games, dating back to last year. With a win tonight, LBSU will be just the sixth Big West team in history to finish the season with at least 16 wins without a loss, the last team accomplishing the feat being Utah State (16-0) during the 1999-2000 campaign.
Not to be lost in the shuffle is Fullerton's terrific season, as its 20-8 overall record marks just the seventh 20-win season in the program's 52-year history. At 11-4 in conference, today's results along with the outcome of the UC Davis/UC Santa Barbara game will determine which team earns the second seed in next week's Big West Conference Tournament. The Titans' 87-76 win over CS- Northridge on Wednesday was their 12th win at Titan Gym this season, and they have won seven of their last eight overall.
After 102 all-time meetings between these two teams, Long Beach State holds to a 60-42 advantage. The 49ers have won two of the last three over the Titans, including a 75-61 decision in Long Beach on Jan. 28.
Long Beach State has been a well-oiled machine from the start this season, ranking second in the conference in scoring offense (73.9 ppg) and third in scoring defense (64.0 ppg) for a league-best scoring margin of +9.9. The 49ers didn't skip a beat against UC Irvine on Wednesday, shooting 47.6 percent from the floor while holding the Anteaters to a dreadful 31.7 percent. Casper Ware led all scorers with 16 points while T.J. Robinson continued his dominance in the paint by tallying 10 points and 12 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the year. The two have been an impressive inside-outside combination this season, with Ware ranking third in the conference in scoring (17.2 ppg) and tied for first in three-pointers made (77), while Robinson (12.2 ppg) ranks first in both field goal percentage (.547) and rebounding (10.3 rpg). Not to be forgotten is Larry Anderson, who fills up the stat sheet with 14.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.9 spg and 1.5 three-pointers per contest.
The lone Big West team to score more points than Long Beach State this season is Fullerton, which has lit up the league by ranking first in scoring (78.6 ppg), field goal percentage (.485), three-point field goal percentage (.411) and three-pointers made (243). The trend continued in Wednesday's win over CS- Northridge as the Titans drained 11 three-pointers and scored at least 80 points for the 12th time on the campaign. D.J. Seeley (25 points) and Kwame Vaughn (24 points) both had big games, as each scored at least 20 points for the sixth time this year. Seeley (16.6 ppg) and Vaughn (15.8 ppg, 3.9 apg) aren't the only productive Titans, as Isiah Umipig (13.8 ppg), Omondi Amoke (11.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg) and Orane Chin (9.9 ppg) round out one of the most dynamic starting fives in the nation. Fullerton is also the BWC's strongest team on the glass, boasting a rebounding margin of +5.5.
LBSU has saved its toughest task for last, as Fullerton has not only been nearly unbeatable at home (12-1), it has won five of its last six home games by double figures. Even though the 49ers have locked up first place, it is definitely mindful of the undefeated record on the line, and they will find a way to get things done tonight like they have all season long.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Long Beach State 83, Cal State Fullerton 81