LONG BEACH — Cal State Long Beach men's basketball team, which didn't resemble a last-place club Saturday night in Las Vegas, needs a victory tonight against UC Santa Barbara if it hopes to get out of the cellar in the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn.
The game starts at 7:35 in the campus gym.
The 49ers, who won only four games last season, have an overall record of 5-14 and are 1-7 in the PCAA. Two of those league losses were in overtime and one was by one point to Santa Barbara Jan. 6.
"Right now we should be fighting for at least the sixth spot in the conference and we're not," Coach Ron Palmer said.
The 49ers trail ninth-place Utah State (2-5) and Santa Barbara and Pacific, who are tied for eighth at 3-6. The first eight teams will qualify for the league's postseason tournament at the Forum in March.
Even if they haven't found a way to win, the 49ers have been improving.
Playing before a roaring crowd of 17,202 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, where UNLV has lost only one game since the building opened in 1983, the young 49ers pushed the heavily favored Rebels (19-2) to the limit before losing, 72-65.
The 49ers were led in that game by sophomore center DeAnthony Langston and freshman forward Andre Purry, who both scored 15 points.
Langston has averaged 20 points in his last four league games. He is the only 49er, however, averaging in double figures.
Purry leads the team in rebounds with 5.5 a game. The 49ers have out-rebounded their opponents in 15 games.
Sophomore guard Billy Walker, who leads the league in assists, played a strong 39 minutes against Las Vegas, while two other sophomore guards, Reggie Wallace and Morlon Wiley, combined for 22 points.
The 49ers will host Cal State Fullerton Saturday night.