For one last time in 2015, the Arizona Wildcats will take the McKale Center floor, looking to extend their home winning streak to 47 games. That last non-conference opponent of the year is the Long Beach State 49ers, who enter the game with a 6-7 record, and are just 1-4 on the road. Two of those road losses were to UCLA (83-76) and Oregon (94-73).
Who to watch
LBSU's best player is Nick Faust, and it's not that close. Faust is a 6-6 guard averaging a team-high 16 points per game. However, he does turn the ball over two times per game, and is shooting just 42.8% from the field overall. Nearly half of his shots come from three, and he is 41.8% from beyond the arc, so he has the potential to take over the game with his three-point shot.
Faust once went to Maryland, and since arriving at Long Beach State, has scored in double-figures in all of his games. He also took home Big West Player of the Week honors a couple of weeks ago.
He also has the potential to do this:
Travis Hammonds is the team's leading rebounder, pulling down 5.7 boards per game. Just like Faust, he is a 6-6 guard/forward, and is the only other guy on the team averaging double figures in scoring (11 PPG). 53 of his 100 field goal attempts have come from long range, and he knocks down 45% of those shots. In fact, as a team, LBSU shoots just under 40% from three.
Then there's Roschon Prince, who is also 6-6, but was once Ryan Anderson's high school teammate before going to USC. Prince has not attempted a three this year.
"He's their starting four I think," Anderson said of his former teammate. "Both my high school coaches and some friends are coming out for the game. It's always fun to play some hometown friends."
"During the game it's no love, but after the game it's all love, so that's how it'll be."
If Prince does indeed start at the four, that means we'll have two high school teammates guarding each other, and Arizona will have the clear size advantage with Anderson in that matchup.
What to watch:
Continuing on the size advantage, this will be the theme for Arizona in all facets of the game. The tallest player Long Beach can even go to is 6-8 Mason Riggins, and he only averages 3.6 PPG and 2.1 RPG in just over 12 minutes per contest. This should mean big production on Arizona's end from Dusan Ristic, Ryan Anderson, Mark Tollefsen, and even Chance Comanche. There's no reason to not get the ball down low every single possession against such a small team.
Given LBSU's prolific shooting from three, I would hope that either Kadeem Allen or Allonzo Trier gets the assignment of Faust, with the other getting Hammonds. Gabe York's ability to defend on the perimeter will also be crucial for Arizona in this one.
The Wildcats have started to show the ability to slow down the opponent's best player since leaving Anaheim, so they should be alright with trying to stop Faust. With the enormous size advantage, you would expect Arizona to control the paint, and dominate on the glass.
Since this is the last tuneup before conference play begins in Tempe in two weeks, it's vital to get guys like Ristic and Comanche enormous confidence boosts before they have to go up against more stiff competition. With the absence of Kaleb Tarczewski likely extending into conference play, those two guys will be called upon in some big spots early on against Pac-12 opponents.
Arizona and Long Beach State will tip-off on Tuesday at 7 PM MST on Pac-12 Networks.