Long Beach State (7-6, 0-0) vs. UC Irvine (4-9, 1-0) at 7:05 p.m. in Irvine, CA

First off, Happy New Year to all. For those of you who have stuck around, your readership is appreciated. Zotcubed is constantly trying to improve and explore new venues to make this blog a worthwhile visit, and hopefully 2012 will see all of that play out very soon.

Secondly, congrats are in order for Derick Flowers, who was named Big West Player of the Week for men’s basketball in recognition of his standout game against Cal State Northridge. Good match-up or slow week luckiness aside, it’s still an honor that not many expected Flowers to earn this year.

Finally, what better way to kick-off the Big West home slate and the new year then a showdown against the nationally hyped 49ers. I’ll keep it short due to the increased exposure Long Beach has received this year, a few things to watch out for after the jump.

  • Because the game is during winter break for both UCI and Long Beach State students, attendance figures to be much lower than what it would have been for the most exciting home game on the schedule. Last year, a strong student showing helped propel the Anteaters to the upset win over the 49ers, leading to a rather overzealous storming of the court. This year, a crowd like that could do wonders for a group of freshmen (not to mention the ticket office) who have never experienced anything like that so far. But alas, the scheduling gods did not smile upon UCI this year.
  • Beyond the core of seniors Larry Anderson, T.J Robinson, Eugene Phelps, and Casper Ware, freshman Mike Caffey is someone who will be interesting to compare to UCI’s freshman guard Collin Woods. If it weren’t for his injury, Aaron Wright would have been an even better comparison. Monson vs. Turner. The future of both teams. SoCal point guard vs. SoCal point guard.
  • Last year, UCI was pretty effective at neutralizing Ware’s assists and overall offensive game. He burst through in a couple games to carry them to the victory, but all in all, I’d say that Coach Turner has a good idea of what to expect. It’ll be much tougher however without Patrick Rembert and Darren Moore helping out. One can only hope that we don’t get a repeat performance of the UCLA game.
  • Long Beach State is coming off a very strong tournament in Hawaii, beating a ranked Xavier team and blowing out Auburn. However, they also have been off since Christmas day. Hopefully they will show some rust coming off of the holiday break while UCI can build on their momentum from the Northridge win. Go Anteaters!