The Cal State Long Beach men’s basketball team will play UC Santa Barbara in a Big West Conference Tournament game at 4 p.m. today in the Long Beach Arena.
The 49ers, who have a 13-14 record, lost twice to Santa Barbara (20-7) during the regular season, 53-52 and 77-66.
“A big key will be stopping Mike Doyle,” said Long Beach Coach Joe Harrington. Doyle, a 6-8 forward, averaged 19 points a game against the 49ers this season. The Gauchos’ other top players are guard Carrick DeHart and forward Eric McArthur.
Center John Hatten, the 49ers’ top scorer with a 14-point average, is not likely to be at full effectiveness because of a sprained ankle.
“We were decimated by injuries this year,” Harrington said.
Forward Andre Purry, who was projected to be the team’s top player, suffered a knee injury last summer and won’t play until next season.
Rolf Jacobs, a starting forward, injured his knee Feb. 4 and had to undergo surgery.
And senior reserve center Marco Fleming missed four conference games because of a chipped bone in his leg.
Fleming, however, has come back strong. He scored a career-high 27 points last Saturday night against Cal State Fullerton and has averaged 18 points in his last four games.
“He deserves so much for the improvement he’s made in two years,” Harrington said of Fleming, who averaged 3 points last season.
Other 49er scoring averages: Tyrone Mitchell, 11; Fleming, 10; Darrel Faulkner and Rudy Harvey, 8; Jeff Eastin, 7; Brian Jones, 6; and Bobby Sears, 4.
If the 49ers win, they will advance to the semifinals Friday night. The championship game will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, with the winner advancing to the NCAA Tournament.