Long Beach State is a mediocre 5-5 overall, including 1-5 away from its home court. The 49ers did manage to halt a two-game slide last time out with a 76-54 romp over Eastern New Mexico, but the level of competition obviously spikes significantly tonight.
Xavier's 8-0 start was just two wins shy of the school record set in 1996-97, but a short-handed group of Musketeers fell hard to Oral Roberts on Sunday by a 64-42 final. That game was the first for the club since it crushed Cincinnati in a game that received national attention for a bench-clearing brawl that resulted in several suspensions.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between Long Beach State and Xavier on the hardwood.
T.J. Robinson has been a force on the boards for Long Beach State this season, as he has led the team in rebounding in all 10 games to date. He has finished with 11 or more rebounds on six occasions and is ripping down 10.6 rpg to go along with his 13.1 ppg. Casper Ware paces the 49ers offensively with 17.5 ppg and 3.8 apg, while Larry Anderson is also handing out 3.8 apg to go along with 15.1 ppg. James Ennis rounds out a foursome of double-digit scorers with 10.1 ppg for LBSU, which is generating 75.0 ppg while holding foes to 69.7 ppg. In the recent 22-point victory over Eastern New Mexico, Ennis paces a balanced attack with 15 points, while Anderson scored 14. The 49ers shot 51.9 percent from the field and finished with a 10-2 edge in points from the foul line. A 36-28 rebounding advantage and 20 forced turnovers also helped the cause.
Xavier's best two players, Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons, were both suspended after the ugly and well-publicized skirmish during the 23-point victory over bitter rival Cincinnati last week. Holloway returns to the lineup tonight, though the team will be without Lyons and standout freshman Dezmine Wells again this evening. Holloway brings 17.6 ppg and nearly 5.0 apg to the mix for the Musketeers, and the reigning Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year is a force at both ends of the court. Lyons is a stellar performer as well, as he is posting 17.4 ppg on 50.5 percent shooting from the field, while Wells checks in with 9.5 ppg. Without all three against Oral Roberts, Xavier simply couldn't generate offense, finishing with 42 points on 32.7 percent shooting from the field. The team was credited with only 11 assists against 17 turnovers, and finished with just one three-pointer.