GAME NOTES: A pair of teams trying to find their identity early this season tip off on Saturday evening when the struggling Long Beach State 49ers travel to Alaska Airlines Arena to face the up-and-down Washington Huskies.
The Huskies enter the contest fresh off an 83-79 win over Montana on Tuesday. Senior guard C.J. Wilson scored 22 of his game-high 28 points in the second half to help Washington end a two-game slide. He drained 5-of-8 from 3-point range, including two straight during a key second-half surge, as the Huskies overcame a 42-36 halftime deficit to improve their home record to 3-1 this season.
Wilcox has been leading the Huskies of late, averaging 27.3 points in his last three games to increase his season average to a team-leading 23.8 points per game. He has been hitting 3-pointers at a 47.8 percent clip. Nigel Williams- Goss, who had 20 points and six assists against Montana, is averaging 13.3 points and six assists per contest for Washington, which has four total players averaging in double figures and is scoring 82.8 points per game.
The Huskies, however, have been struggling at the defensive end. After losing Jernard Jarreau for the season due to a knee injury and Desmond Simmons until late December with a knee ailment, head coach Lorenzo Romar's squad is trying to find a defensive identity. The club is allowing 85.7 points per game, as opponents are shooting a blistering 52.2 percent from the field. The Huskies are also being outrebounded on the year. The good news is that the Huskies protect the ball, only turning it over an average of eight times per game.
The 49ers come into this contest riding a six-game losing streak. The team is coming off a 0-3 trip to the Puerto Rico Tip Off, losing to three major conference schools by a combined 34 points. They lost their opener of the tournament 85-71 to Michigan and followed that with a 73-67 setback to VCU. The final contest on Sunday saw Long Beach State drop a 52-38 decision to Kansas State, marking its second loss of the season to the Wildcats.
On Sunday, Long Beach State forced Kansas State into 23 turnovers, but a 20- minute offensive drought allowed the Wildcats to take charge. Mike Caffey hit two 3-pointers early as part of a game-high 13 points, answering a basket from Marcus Foster to tie the game at 10-10 with 12:43 to play in the first half, but Long Beach State failed to make another field goal for the rest of the half as Kansas State opened up a 25-13 lead. The 49er drought continued through the first eight minutes of the second half, until McKay LaSalle buried a 3-pointer to pull the 49ers out of their offensive funk. The 49ers did hold K-State to just 52 points, their fewest point total allowed of this season, and forced 23 turnovers.
On the year, Caffey is leading the team with an average of 15 points per game, shooting nearly 36 percent from 3-point range. He has scored in double figures in three straight games, hitting 7-of-16 from beyond the arc over that stretch. Dan Jennings continues to be the 49ers best inside force, posting 11 points per contest and nearly 10 boards a game. However, he is coming off his worst game of the season and will need to find his scoring touch and stay active on the boards to give the 49ers a chance.
This is just the third all-time meeting between these two schools and first since 2010. The Huskies won both of the prior contests, each in Washington and the last by a score of 102-75.
Washington will need to continue to find its defensive groove, but its overall depth should be enough to overpower Long Beach State, which is averaging just 65 points per game and has to be feeling the effects of a season-long five- game road trip that ends here.
Game Date and Time