L. Beach avenges worst, beats best No. 1 Kansas routed as Calif. school bounces back from humiliating loss


LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Frustrated and confused, its Top 25 rating out the window, Cal State Long Beach limped into town for its game against top-ranked Kansas last night.

Vivid memories of a 34-point loss two days earlier to Virginia Commonwealth -- a game during which it shot 34 percent and committed 25 turnovers -- still haunted the players as they stepped onto the floor at Allen Fieldhouse.

"We were so embarrassed about the way we played. We didn't want that to happen again," junior point guard Jeff Rogers said. "I think that embarrassment led us to play well tonight."

Now, it's the Jayhawks (16-2) who are embarrassed. Long Beach (14-3) held them to their fewest points of the season while shooting 62.8 percent to win, 64-49, before a disbelieving crowd of 15,800.

The 49ers' season-best shooting ended a 14-game home-court winning streak for the Jayhawks, who were coming off an 82-51 Big Eight victory Saturday at Colorado, their seventh in a row overall.

Long Beach, meanwhile, might have scored the biggest victory in school history, taking nothing away from its 101-94 home victory Jan. 7 that ended Nevada-Las Vegas' 29-game winning streak.

"These kids have been through some hellish times," third-year 49ers coach Seth Greenberg said after receiving a water-bucket dousing from jubilant players in the locker room.

"I was an assistant at the Final Four [with Virgina in 1984] and I have never had a greater feeling than I'm having just now."

Faced with intense defensive pressure from the 49ers on the perimeter, the nation's best field-goal shooting team made only 10 of 25 attempts during the first 20 minutes, and 22 of 52 for the game (42.3 percent), nearly 14 points below its average. Kansas made only five of 16 free throws and none of its nine three-point attempts.

Long Beach, meanwhile, made 15 of 20 shots from the field en route to a 35-21 halftime lead. The 49ers expanded the lead to as many as 21 points during the second half, then spread the floor and worked patiently for shots -- something the team, which averages 80 points, never has done well.

"We haven't been able to hold the ball that long. Never do I remember holding it for 30 seconds at a time. It's kind of hard," said senior guard Lucious Harris, who scored 24 points and in the process became the 49ers' career scoring leader, surpassing Michael Wiley.

Harris, a four-year starter, has scored 1,975 points and is expected to break the Big West Conference scoring record before the season is over. He made 10 of 17 shots last night.

Kansas coach Roy Williams said he couldn't remember a time when a team shot so well in the Jayhawks' field house, or a game in which his team played so poorly. It was his worst loss in 151 games at Kansas.

"I tried to tell the players to just imagine how good they would be if they had to come in here and had just been beaten by 30 points," said Williams about his pre-game talk in which he worried out loud that the Jayhawks were taking the 49ers too lightly.

"You fear these games when you're not mentally prepared. We weren't ready to play, but I give credit to Long Beach State. They bounced back from Saturday night."

Said Harris of the victory: "Hopefully, that woke us up."

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