College Basketball

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Stephen F. Austin (22-3) at Long Beach State (17-9)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Friday, February 22, 9 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Walter Pyramid (4,200) -- Long Beach, California. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: SFA 12-0, LBSU 11-2. Away Record: SFA 10-3, LBSU 6-7. Neutral Record: SFA 0-0, LBSU 0-0. Conference Record: SFA 13-2, LBSU 13-2. Series Record: Long Beach State leads, 2-0.

GAME NOTES: A pair of teams that are in a class all themselves in their respective conferences, the 49ers of Long Beach State are preparing for a visit by the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks on Friday night as part of the annual BracketBuster event.

Granted, the Lumberjacks are tied with Northwestern State at the top of the Southland Conference standings at 13-2, but from an overall perspective, SFA is 22-3 overall, albeit with many of those victories coming against lesser- known, non-conference opponents early on. Most recently, the 'Jacks bounced back from just their second league defeat by topping Sam Houston State on Wednesday night, 50-44, on the road to mark their sixth win in the last seven outings overall.

Meanwhile, the 49ers played their final home conference game of the season on Wednesday night as they entertained UC Davis at the Pyramid. Battling back from a nine-point halftime deficit, LBSU recorded a 71-65 victory which not only extended the team's home conference win streak versus Big West opponents to 26 in a row, it also means the team has earned at least a share of the regular season title with just three games to play.

LBSU won the only two previous meetings between these squads, the last coming in 1991 in a 70-62 final at home.

The first half between the Lumberjacks and Sam Houston State was tough to watch as the squads combined to score just 35 points on 11 field goals. After hitting a mere 6-of-25 from the field through the first 20 minutes of action, SFA bounced back with 54.5 percent accuracy following the break as it held on for the six-point road win. Taylor Smith logged a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Hal Bateman filled out his stat line with 15 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and a couple of steals. Jacob Parker converted just 4-of-12 from the floor, but still added 10 points.

The Lumberjacks don't claim to be an offensive juggernaut by any means, scoring just 65.5 ppg, but what they can make a case for is being one of the more elite defensive teams in college basketball this late in the season, allowing a paltry 49.7 ppg as opponents shoot just 37.0 percent from the field and 27.1 percent beyond the arc. Smith leads the offense with 15.8 ppg, shooting an incredible 70.7 percent from the field, but his dreadful 46.3 percent at the free-throw line drags the entire group down to a mere 61.3 percent.

Against UC Davis a few nights back, the 49ers had to respond to a nine-point deficit at the break and did so by shooting 61.5 percent from the floor in the second half and holding the visitors to 0-of-5 beyond the arc in the period. Keala King finished with 22 points for the hosts, followed by Tony Freeland and James Ennis with 18 and 15 points, respectively, while Dan Jennings grabbed 11 rebounds as he dealt with foul trouble.

Winners of four straight and 12 of the last 13 outings overall, the 49ers have actually had a different leading scorer in each of the last four contests. The squad is headed by Ennis overall with his 17.3 ppg, clearing 6.6 rpg along the way, but still the team is being beaten on the glass by 2.5 rpg at this point. Mike Caffey (11.7 ppg) and Freeland (11.1 ppg) combine for another 9.3 rpg, which means the top scorers are also working hard in the paint these days for Long Beach State.

The 'Jacks have had a few top-notch wins this season, but there is still something to be said about their conference mates which is why LBSU should be able to control the action in this matchup and dictate the outcome.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Long Beach State 58, Stephen F. Austin 52

02/22 10:34:23 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CHR 2
DUR 9
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
CHI
 
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR
 
7:05pm Tuesday
PHI 0
ATL 0
7:05pm Tuesday
NYY 0
CHC 0
7:05pm Tuesday
BAL 0
TAM 0
7:08pm Tuesday
DET 0
CLE 0
Final
CIN 7
PIT 5
Final
MIA 11
WAS 2
Final
TEX 5
SEA 0
Final
CWS 2
BOS 1
Final
HOU 2
KAN 4
Final
MIL 1
STL 6
Final
MIN 3
TOR 9
Final
ARI 0
NYM 9
Final
ANA 9
OAK 10
Final
SDP 2
COL 3
Final
SFG 3
LOS 2
12:35pm Today
CIN
PIT
12:35pm Today
BAL
TAM
 
1:05pm Today
NYY
CHC
 
1:10pm Today
MIL
STL
 
3:40pm Today
ARI
NYM
 
7:05pm Tonight
PHI
ATL
 
7:05pm Tonight
NYY
CHC
 
7:08pm Tonight
DET
CLE
 
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
WAS
 
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
SEA
 
8:10pm Tonight
CWS
BOS
 
8:10pm Tonight
HOU
KAN
 
8:10pm Tonight
MIN
TOR
 
10:05pm Tonight
ANA
OAK
 
10:10pm Tonight
SDP
COL
 
10:15pm Tonight
SFG
LOS
 
Final
BRK 98
NYK 109
Final
LAC 117
DEN 105
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
CHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
IND
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIL
ATL
 
8:00pm Tonight
CLE
BRK
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
DAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
DET
 
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
HOU
 
8:00pm Tonight
SAN
LAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIA
PHI
 
8:00pm Tonight
NYK
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
UTA
 
8:00pm Tonight
BOS
WAS
 
10:30pm Tonight
DEN
GSW
 
10:30pm Tonight
POR
LAC
 
10:30pm Tonight
SAC
PHO
 
7:00pm Tonight
TAM
MON
7:30pm Tonight
PIT
CLB
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
DAL
Final
CHR 2
DUR 9
 
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR