Long Beach State (5-11) at UC Santa Barbara (9-5)
GAME NOTES: The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos will close out a three-game homestand at the UCSB Events Center on Thursday night when they tangle with the Long Beach State 49ers in a Big West Conference clash.
LBSU, which has won the Big West regular-season title in each of the past three seasons, have not performed well in 2013-14, going just 5-11 overall with a 1-5 ledger in true road games. The 49ers are fresh off their most convincing win of the season however, as they downed UC Davis at home last Saturday, 99-74, to improve to 1-1 in the league.
UCSB has played just one conference game so far, losing at home to Cal Poly on Saturday by a 72-64 final to snap a three-game winning streak. The Gauchos have still impressed this season despite the loss, going 9-5 overall and 4-2 at home.
The 49ers hold a 66-55 lead over the Gauchos all-time, with their 57-55 triumph in the latest matchup on Jan. 30, 2013, their fifth straight in the series.
The 49ers had no problem dismissing UC Davis in their most recent bout, as they shot a lofty 55.9 percent from the field (including 13-of-25 from 3-point range) and outrebounded UCD by a convincing 41-26 margin on their way to the 25-point victory. Providing a spark off the bench was Travis Hammonds, who shot 7-of-9 from the field on his way to 20 points in just 20 minutes of work. Mike Caffey tallied 17 points and seven assists, Tyler Lamb scored 16 points and David Samuels posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Despite its outstanding performance last weekend, LBSU has still struggled offensively this season, shooting a lowly 40.3 percent from the field for 67.3 ppg, 5.4 ppg fewer than it allows. After missing the first 10 games, Lamb has joined the lineup to lead the way in scoring with 18.3 ppg, albeit on just 37 percent field goal shooting. Caffey (16.0 ppg) and Dan Jennings (10.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg) are also regular contributors.
The Gauchos fell behind Cal Poly by four at intermission of their latest game and could never take the lead in the second stanza. They were outshot from the field, 45.3 percent to 40.7 percent, and were especially poor from long range (2-of-17), which spoiled an impressive showing at the free-throw line (18- of-21). Alan Williams was outstanding in spite of defeat, logging 33 points and 15 rebounds. Zalmico Harmon was the only other player to register in double figure with 10 points.
On the season, UCSB has displayed strong balance on both ends of the floor, shooting 47.5 percent from the field for 72.6 ppg while allowing just 65.8 ppg on less than 40 percent shooting. It has also made a habit of draining its free throws (.726) and knocks down 7.3 3-pointers per game. Williams has established himself as one of the country's best playmakers at forward, as he ranks third nationally in scoring (24.3 ppg) and sixth in rebounding (11.1 rpg), while adding 2.5 bpg for good measure. Kyle Boswell (12.0 ppg) has been outstanding from 3-point range, connecting on 43-of-91 (.473), while Michael Bryson rounds out the double-digit scorers with 10.1 ppg
LBSU has been a much better team ever since Lamb joined the lineup a few weeks ago, but it has still shown an inability to win on the road. Don't expect that trend to change at the UCSB Events Center in this one.
GAME NOTES: The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos will close out a three-game homestand
at the UCSB Events Center on Thursday night when they tangle with the Long
Beach State 49ers in a Big West Conference clash.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: UC Santa Barbara Events Center (5,600) -- Santa Barbara,
California. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: LBSU 4-3, UCSB 4-2. Away Record:
LBSU 1-5, UCSB 3-3. Neutral Record: LBSU 0-3, UCSB 2-0. Conference Record:
LBSU 1-1, UCSB 0-1. Series Record: Long Beach State leads, 66-55.Game Date and Time
Thursday, January 16, 11 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
UC Santa Barbara 75, Long Beach State 69