Previewing Long Beach State

On the way to Maui, the Tar Heels will get their first taste of a rowdy road environment late Friday night against Long Beach State. Tip-off at the Walter Pyramid is set for 11:10 p.m. EST and will be televised by ESPNU.

North Carolina (2-0) vs. Long Beach State (1-1)
Long Beach, Calif. -- Walter Pyramid (6,054)
Friday, 11:10 p.m.
ESPNU (Dave Flemming, Sean Farnham)


Season to Date: Long Beach State enters Friday's contest with a 1-1 record. The 49ers topped North Alabama, 75-65, in their season opener on Nov. 10 before losing to Southern Cal, 62-44, on Nov. 13. Dan Monson's squad was picked to win its third straight Big West title in the league's preseason poll.

Power Of The Pyramid: Expect a rowdy atmosphere on Friday night at Walter Pyramid (yes, it's an actual pyramid). LBSU takes a lot of pride in creating a raucous home court advantage and the results speak for themselves -- 23 straight home wins, good for the second longest home winning streak in the nation. The 49ers ended the 2010-11 season with 10 straight home wins before winning all 12 home games last season. And North Carolina will witness a record crowd as well, as LBSU has added temporary bleachers to raise capacity to an all-time high of 6,800.

New Look 49ers: When these two programs met last December, Long Beach State's starting five had combined for 343 career starts and 4,905 career points. Only one of those starters returned – 6-foot-7 wing James Ennis. The 2011-12 All-Big West Honorable Mention selection earned All-Big West Conference preseason honors and has lived up to that billing through two games, averaging 16.0 points and 5.5 rebounds. Sophomore guard Mike Caffey (13.0 ppg, 2.5 apg) has assumed point guard duties for Casper Ware to provide a 1-2 punch with Ennis.

Man Down: True freshman point guard Branford Jones is out 8-12 weeks after suffering a lower leg injury during LBSU's season opener. In the first 15 minutes of his career, Jones scored eight points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out three assists in a backup role. Third-team point guard Jerramy King missed the opener with a shoulder injury.

Search for Scorers: After a 55 percent opening half of shooting against North Alabama, the 49ers have shot 31 percent in their three halves since, including a 21.7 percent second half against Southern Cal that turned a close game into a rout. The issue through these first two games has been a lack of offensive contributors. James Ennis and Kris Gulley are the only members of the team's top six scorers to be shooting over 27 percent. And outside of Ennis and Mike Coffey, the rest of the 49ers only made four field goals against Southern Cal.

Last Meeting: No. 4 North Carolina overcame a six-point second-half deficit to outlast Long Beach State, 84-78, on Dec. 10, 2011. Senior guard Casper Ware paced the 49ers with a career-high 29 points as LBSU built a 51-45 lead. Reggie Bullock ignited UNC's offense with 11 points in a 17-8 run to reclaim the lead. North Carolina shot 51.5 percent from the floor, while LBSU knocked down 47.1 percent.

Series History: UNC leads the all-time series with LBSU, 2-0.

Projected Starters:
5 Mike Caffey (6-0, 170, So.) - 13.0 ppg, 2.5 apg
11 James Ennis (6-6, 190, Sr.) - 16.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg
0 Kris Gulley (6-7, 180, So.) - 8.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg
34 Kyle Richardson (6-7, 236, Jr.) - 3.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg
35 Dan Jennings (6-8, 255, Jr.) - 4.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg

Top Reserves:
23 Deng Deng (6-6, 176, Fr.) - 5.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg
2 Peter Pappageorge (6-0, 182, Sr.) - 4.0 ppg, 1.0 apg
33 Nick Shepherd (6-9, 214, So.) - 1.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg

Location: Long Beach, Calif.
Enrollment: 33,395
Conference: Big West
Nickname: 49ers
Colors: Black & Gold
Head Coach: Dan Monson (6th season)
2011-12 Record: 25-9 (15-1)

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(Photos by US Presswire)

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