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Thursday, September 13, 2012
UNC opponent preview: Long Beach State

By Robbi Pickeral

As we count down to the first day of basketball practice (Oct. 12), let’s take a daily look at an opponent on North Carolina’s basketball schedule ...

Opponent: Long Beach State

Date: Nov. 16, 11:05 p.m. EST

Game location: Walter Pyramid, Long Beach, Calif.

Series results: UNC leads 2-0; last beat LBSU in Chapel Hill last season 84-78.

Last season: The 49ers finished 25-9 overall, and 15-1 in the Big West conference. A No. 12 seed, they lost to New Mexico in their first game of the NCAA tournament.

Foe to know: James Ennis, 6-foot-7 forward, senior

The 49ers lost four of their top five scorers (including point guard Casper Ware, who gave the Tar Heels a fit in the first half last season), and will be looking for a go-to guy to lead them through another tough nonconference schedule. Ennis could fit the bill. The former junior college player averaged 10.1 points in 2011-12, making him the only LBSU returner who averaged double figures in scoring -- and one of only two returners who played significant minutes. Coach Dan Monson has rebuilt his roster with a combination of transfers and freshmen, and it will be key to see how they all meld.

Tidbits: LBSU played last season’s toughest nonconference schedule, and despite the player turnover, Monson hasn’t dialed it down. The 49ers play road games at USC, Arizona, Fresno State, Loyola Marymount, Syracuse, Ohio State and UCLA -- and that doesn’t even count UNC’s visit.  … This will be a stopover game for the Tar Heels on their way to the Maui Invitational.

Previous schedule previews: Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.