Previewing Long Beach State

All that stands between North Carolina and its next big nationally televised game are final exams and Long Beach State. Saturday's tip-off against the 49ers at the Smith Center is scheduled for 7 p.m. on FSS.

North Carolina (6-3) vs. Long Beach State (5-5)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
7 p.m. -- Fox Sports South (Mike Hogewood, Dan Bonner)


"I thought one of their kids was taunting our bench a couple times in a row. I got on the court which is an automatic technical but you will have to ask the officials why I got the second one because I don't know. All I did was explain what was going on, in my mind." – LBSU head coach Dan Monson, after being ejected four minutes and 24 seconds into his team's 81-53 loss to Utah State on Wednesday.


Season to Date: Long Beach State enters Saturday's contest with a 5-5 overall record. The 49ers have picked up wins over San Francisco State, Saint Peter's, Iowa, BYU-Hawaii and Boise State, while dropping games to No. 25 San Diego State, Clemson, Loyola Marymount, No. 22 Washington and Utah State. Head coach Dan Monson, best known for lifting Gonzaga to national prominence with an Elite Eight run in 1999, has turned around a program that won just six games in his first season. The Beach lost in the 2010 Big West Tournament championship game by six points and were voted second in the Big West preseason poll this fall.

Double-Double Man: Forward D.J. Robinson earned first-team All-Big West honors in 2010 after averaging a double-double with 15.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per contest. The 6-foot-8, 215-pound junior has already posted six double-doubles this season in averaging 12.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, boosting his career double-double total to 28. Robinson is currently tied for third nationally in double-doubles in '10-'11.

A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That: Guard Casper Ware has made a name for himself for being a jack of all trades. The junior earned second-team All-Big West honors last season after averaging 11.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.1 steals per contest. Different year, similar results. The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder is averaging 14.6 points (34.3 percent on 3-pointers), 5.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game. Ware ranks 29th nationally in steals and 30th in assists, while leading the Big West Conference in both categories.

Balanced Attack, Minimal Bodies: Prior to three-year starter Larry Anderson (11.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg) breaking his hand against Washington on Nov. 30, all five LBSU starters averaged in double figures in the scoring column while also accounting for 162.2 of the team's 200 minutes per game. Anderson's absence has skewed those numbers just a bit, forcing reserves Kyle Richardson and Sean Starkey to take a bigger role. Anderson is expected to be out for another month.

Numbers Game: The Beach has five notches in its loss column due in large part to two statistics – a minus-1.8 turnover margin and a 46.8 field goal percentage by its opponents.

Old Friends: Despite being over 2,500 miles from home, Eugene Phelps (11.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg) will see a familiar face when he steps on the Smith Center court. The junior forward was a three-year teammate of UNC guard Larry Drew II at Woodland Hills Taft High School in Los Angeles.

Series History: Saturday's meeting will be the first ever meeting between these two programs. Long Beach State is scheduled to visit UNC again next year before hosting North Carolina during the 2012-13 season.

Projected Starters:
22 Casper Ware (5-10, 170, Jr.) – 14.6 ppg, 5.7 apg
3 Greg Plater (6-1, 180, Sr.) – 12.2 ppg, 2.0 apg
4 Eugene Phelps (6-6, 235, Jr.) – 11.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg
20 T.J. Robinson (6-8, 215, Jr.) – 12.7 ppg, 10.7 rpg
34 Kyle Richardson (6-7, 235, So.) – 1.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg

Top Reserves:
2 Tristan Wilson (6-5, 200, Sr.) – 5.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg
11 Lin Chang (6-9, 250, Jr.) – 3.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg

Location: Long Beach, Calif.
Enrollment: 35,559
Conference: Big West
Nickname: 49ers
Colors: Black & Gold
Head Coach: Dan Monson (4th season)

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