Men's Basketball, Men's Sports, Sports

Long Beach State to play pair of televised home games

The Long Beach State men’s basketball team continues its three-game homestand this week as it hosts a pair of Big West rivals.

LBSU will be looking for a regular season sweep of UC Santa Barbara when it welcomes the Gauchos to the Walter Pyramid tonight.

The ‘Niners (11-8, 7-1 Big West) defeated UCSB (7-12, 3-5) 77-70 last month on the road.

LBSU head coach Dan Monson said he wants his team to continue its path of improvement. The Beach had its most complete game of the season Saturday in an 81-59 victory over UC Irvine, which Monson attributed to dedication in practice and the experience the players have gained by playing together.

“It’s a consistency thing,” he said. “Consistency begins in practice, and it becomes a habit. We practiced well last week, so I think that’s why we played well. Today was good, so we just have to keep building.”

LBSU will look to extend its six-game winning streak and win its 22nd straight conference home game. For the success to continue, Monson said the team must get out to a fast start against the Gauchos.

“We need to focus, make sure we’re ready and that we start good and not let them have confidence that they can come in here and win” he said. “We know how good they can be when they get going, and we can’t let them. The best thing we did against Irvine was never let them get comfortable.”

The ‘Niners will look to the leadership of senior guard James Ennis, who has scored in double figures 24 games in a row. His averages of 17 points and 6.9 rebounds per game are good for fifth and eighth in the conference, respectively.

The Gauchos will be without their top scorer and rebounder in sophomore center Alan Williams, who has missed Santa Barbara’s last two games with a strained left hamstring tendon. Williams currently leads the conference in rebounding with 9.9 boards a night and is fourth in scoring, averaging 17.4 points per game.

Junior guard Kyle Boswell and freshman forward Taran Brown will be relied on to pick up the slack for the Santa Barbara offense, as they rank second and third on the team in points, scoring a combined 25.7 points per game.

Junior guard Keala King, who is averaging 10.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists on the season, said despite the team’s recent success, the players know it can still be better.

“We have to come back every day in practice with expectations that we can be better,” he said. “We still think we’re not as good as we should be. We know [the second round of conference play] isn’t going to be easy. The second time playing a team is probably the hardest because they scout you, so we’re going to prepare ourselves and know it’s going to be a battle.”

On Saturday, The Beach will look to avenge its only Big West loss of the season so far when it hosts Cal Poly (9-9, 5-3) at 4:05 p.m.

The Mustangs are paced by junior forward Chris Eversley, who averages 16.4 points (seventh in the conference) and 7.8 rebounds (fourth) a game.

Cal Poly defeated the ‘Niners, 79-73, earlier this month in San Luis Obispo.

Tonight’s game against UCSB is set to tip off 9 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNews and ESPN3. Saturday’s contest with Cal Poly can be seen on FOX Prime Ticket at 4:05 p.m.

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