College Basketball Preview: Louisville vs. Long Beach State

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The Cards continue their ten-game homestand tonight, welcoming the Long Beach State 49ers to the KFC Yum! Center. After squeaking by Ohio on Friday night, U of L will be 9.5-point favorites against the 3-2 49ers, led by Dan Monson in his fifth year at Long Beach State. LBSU has already taken down Pitt this year and, after Louisville, still has out-of-conference road games remaining against Kansas, North Carolina and Xavier, all current top-25 teams. They are an experienced team who return all five starters (four seniors and a junior) from a team that won the Big West crown last season.

The 49ers beat Pitt, then ranked ninth in the nation, on November 16 in the Petersen Events Center, 86-76. When talking about the schedule prior to the start of the season, Rick Pitino likened LBSU to a team that could become this year’s San Diego State. The Beach looked to be capable of living up to the Rickstradamus’ hype after handling Pitt on the road, but they have dropped two games since then; one, ironically, to San Diego State in overtime, and the other on the road at Montana.

Senior guard Casper Ware was named to the John Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 list, as was his counterpart to-be on Monday night, Peyton Siva. Through five games, the 5’10” Ware leads LBSU with 18.8 points and 4.0 assists per game. He currently sits at second all-time in assists in school history with 451, but also takes it upon himself to shoot a lot of threes. He’s hit 12 of 37 three-point attempts this season, but only went 1-for-5 and 1-for-4 in consecutive games against San Diego State and Boise State. Look for the Cards to be ready to close out on his outside shot attempts.

49ers senior forward T.J. Robinson is the school’s all-time leading rebounder, averaging 11.6 boards per game this season. He’s third on the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game and shoots 58 percent from the field. Larry Anderson, another senior guard, averages 14.6 points and shoots 40 percent from beyond the arc.

It’s hard to believe the Cards will be looking past Long Beach State to the Friday night dance with Vanderbilt in the Big East/SEC Challenge. The 49ers are yet another formidable opponent on what is an unusually strong out-of-conference schedule for the Cards. Louisville will need another big night from Gorgui Dieng on the glass, especially with Stephan Van Treese out indefinitely with a knee injury, and Siva is going to need help guarding Ware, especially if his ankle is not at full health. This team has proven itself willing to grind out games and these types of matchups will help the team along the way in preparing for the always daunting Big East conference schedule.

Date – Monday, November 28, 2011
Location – KFC Yum! Center/Crum Court (22,000), Louisville, Ky.
Time – 7:02 p.m. ET
Television – ESPNU, Justin Kutcher (pbp), Bob Valvano (color)
Radio – WKRD (790 AM, 101.7 FM, SIRIUS Ch. 94, XM Ch. 190), Paul Rogers (pbp), Doug Ormay (color)
Series – First meeting
Officials – Ed Corbett, Paul Faia, Sean Corbin