The Big West Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament semifinal tonight at 6 against UC Santa Barbara at Dollar Loan Center Arena in Henderson, Nevada could end up being the biggest challenge of the week for No. 1 seed Long Beach State.
UCSB, the No. 5 seed in the tournament, snapped the Beach’s 11-game winning streak in the middle of February in an 84-71 win at home. The LBSU winning streak started with a 58-65 win over UCSB in January at Walter Pyramid.
The biggest key to this rematch will be the pace the game is played at, and whether or not the Beach can get out quickly in transition. UCSB would much rather use its superior size and depth to grind the game out.
LBSU leads the conference in scoring at 74.2 points per game and ranks 18th in the nation in average tempo, according to Ken Pomeroy.
“If we just let them do what they want to do without being disruptive the odds are going to be against us,” LBSU senior Jordan Roberts said.
In the victory over UCSB in Long Beach, freshman Jadon Jones was efficient and active with 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting, seven rebounds, four steals, three blocks and an assist. Jones will be key to LBSU’s ability to get up the floor quickly and get quality looks.
“He is a big game player,” LBSU coach Dan Monson said of Jones. “He just has a different hop in his step. He’s very confident and he gives us that swagger, and he spreads the court so much.”
This is the eighth conference tournament meeting for LBSU and UCSB. The Gauchos knocked the Beach out of the tournament in the quarterfinals last season.
The winner will play in the championship game on Saturday at 8:30 p.m.