Long Beach St. faces UC Irvine in Big West semis
Long Beach State (15-18, 9-8) vs. UC Irvine (28-5, 16-1)
Big West Conference Tourney Semifinals, Honda Center, Anaheim, California; Friday, 11 p.m. EDT
BOTTOM LINE: UC Irvine is set to take on Long Beach State with a spot in the Big West championship game on the line. The teams split the regular season series at one win apiece. The teams last played each other on Feb. 2, when the Anteaters shot 52.4 percent from the field while limiting Long Beach State to just 42.9 percent en route to the 82-80 victory.
VETERAN PRESENCE: Both of these teams have depended heavily on their seniors this year. Max Hazzard, Evan Leonard, Jonathan Galloway, Collin Welp and Elston Jones have combined to account for 59 percent of UC Irvine’s scoring this season. For Long Beach State, Deishuan Booker, Temidayo Yussuf, Bryan Alberts and Mason Riggins have combined to account for 59 percent of all Long Beach State scoring, including 80 percent of the team’s points over its last five games.
FUELING THE OFFENSE: Booker has either made or assisted on 41 percent of all Long Beach State field goals over the last three games. Booker has 20 field goals and 12 assists in those games.
UNBEATEN WHEN: The Anteaters are 24-0 when holding opponents to 41 percent or worse from the field, and 4-5 when opponents shoot better than that. The 49ers are 5-0 when turning the ball over 10 times or fewer and 10-18 when the team exceeds that total.
ACCOUNTING FOR ASSISTS: The Anteaters have recently used assists to create buckets more often than the 49ers. UC Irvine has an assist on 54 of 106 field goals (50.9 percent) over its previous three games while Long Beach State has assists on 29 of 79 field goals (36.7 percent) during its past three games.
PACE OF PLAY: The upbeat Long Beach State offense has averaged 73.5 possessions per game, the 29th-most in Division I. UC Irvine has not been as uptempo as the 49ers and is averaging only 66.5 possessions per game (ranked 299th, nationally).