49ers Hit the Road to Face Cal Poly & UC Santa Barbara
Jan. 1, 2013
The 49ers (5-7, 1-0 Big West) will hit the road this week to face Cal Poly (Jan. 3) and UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 5) as Big West Conference play continues. Tip-off for the Cal Poly game is at 7:00 pm, while Saturday's match-up with the Gauchos will be televised live on Fox Sports PrimeTicket at 4:00 pm.
Long Beach State has won the last four meetings in San Luis Obispo and will be looking to make it five in a row on Thursday night. The Beach is also looking to extend its win streak to two games after defeating Pacific this past Saturday night to open conference play. The 49ers lead the all-time series against Cal Poly 40-28 and have won the last six games against them.The Mustangs are 5-7 on the year and 1-0 in Big West play (defeated UC Riverside 58-48 on 12/29).
LBSU leads the all-time series with the Gauchos 59-55, having won the last three contests. UCSB is 4-8 on the season and 0-1 in the Big West (lost to Cal State Fullerton on 12/29). They face off with UC Irvine on Thursday.
THE 49ERS ON THE INTERNET: Rob Brender will provide play-by-play for the fourth consecutive season. All games can be heard on longbeachstate.com.
SCHEDULE STRENGTH: With the non-conference schedule in the rear-view mirror (outside of the BracketBuster), Long Beach State's strength of schedule once again ranked as the most difficult in the nation, coming in at No.1 in the Ken Pomeroy SOS rankings. That makes it four years in a row that at least one ranking has put the 49ers on top, reinforcing a philosophy by Dan Monson to play the best. The 49ers have played four ranked teams in 2012-13, and three in this week's Top 10 in Arizona, Syracuse, and Ohio State. Long Beach State has also faced six teams from the power conferences, the most recent coming on Tuesday, December 18 during the 49ers' trip to UCLA.
LAST TIME OUT | LBSU 67, Pacific 63: Improved defense and depth set the tone for Long Beach State, as the 49ers recovered from an early deficit to hold off a scrappy Pacific team in a 67-63 victory in the team's Big West opener. James Ennis and Mike Caffey each scored 19 points to lead the way, with Caffey going 8-for-16 from the floor, while Ennis was 9-of-10 from the line. The 49ers also got a big game from Tony Freeland, who scored 15 points in 35 minutes in his debut with Long Beach State.
THE TRANSFERS HAVE DEBUTED: Long Beach State had two more players make their debut in Black and Gold last weekend, as both Tony Freeland and Keala King became eligible after sitting out the time required due to NCAA regulations. Freeland scored 15 points while picking up his first start as a 49er, going 4-for-5 from the floor and 7-for-8 from the line in over 35 minutes, while King played 19 minutes off of the bench, and grabbed five rebounds, second-most on the team. Freeland comes to Long Beach State from DePaul, while King led Arizona State in scoring last season before departing, averaging 13.7 points per game. Dan Jennings (West Virginia) has played all season for the 49ers, while Edgar Garibay (LMU) saw time against UCLA before missing the Pacific game due to injury.
AFTER ONE GAME: So after one game in conference play, what do we know? The second season is the most important one for Long Beach State this year, leading up to the Big West Tournament in March. The addition of King and Freeland into the lineup helped the 49ers, as Long Beach State played nine different players, and only Mike Caffey, James Ennis, and Tony Freeland played more than 30 minutes. The rest helped Caffey in particular, who scored 15 of his game-high 19 points in the second half.
LOGGING BIG MINUTES: Running a 7-8 man rotation through the first half of the season means that there were plenty of minutes to be had, and the 49ers have three players that rank in the Top 10 in the Big West in average minutes played, led by point guard Mike Caffey, who leads the league, averaging 34.3 minutes per game. Senior forward James Ennis and senior guard Peter Pappageorge also rank among the leaders, with Ennis ranking fourth at 32.9 minutes per and Pappageorge ranking eighth at 30.8 minutes per game. Outside of Long Beach State, only Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge have more than one player averaging more than 30 minutes per contest.
ENNIS FILLING IT UP: Senior James Ennis is currently riding a 16-game streak of scoring in double-figures, and is one of the leading figures for Long Beach State. Ennis' 17.1 points per game average is 98th in the nation, and in 2012, Ennis has scored over 20 points three times, including back-to-back games to close out non-conference play against BYU-Hawaii and UCLA. Ennis is fifth in the league in scoring, and also ranks among the best in the Big West in rebounding, averaging 7.3 boards per game, eighth in the conference while ranking third in blocked shots at 1.7 per game.
CAFFEY WILL PILOT THE 49ERS: Sophomore guard Mike Caffey takes the reins of the 49er offense replacing two-time Big West Conference Player of the Year Casper Ware at point guard. As a true freshman, Caffey averaged 5.9 points and 2.2 assists in 21.8 minutes per game. The Riverside, Calif. product finished with a 1.76 assist-to-turnover ratio, handing out 76 assists while only turning the ball over 43 times in 2011-12. This season, Caffey leads the 49ers with 52 assists and is averaging 11.2 points per game, third on the team. Caffey also leads the 49ers in steals with 19, and has a 1.33 assist to turnover ratio through 11 games, helped greatly by a career-high nine assists at No. 4 Syracuse. Caffey is also averaging 19.0 points per game in Big West action.
JENNINGS IN THE POST: Junior center Dan Jennings is in his first season playing for Long Beach State after transferring from West Virginia, and has thrived over the last five games, scoring in double-figures in four. On the season, Jennings is averaging 10.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, and has had some of his best performances of the season on the biggest stage. At No. 4 Syracuse, Jennings led the 49ers with a career high 20 points and three blocks while adding seven rebounds, and then scored 16 points and grabbed eight boards at No. 7 Ohio State. Jennings was also one point away from a double-double against No. 11 North Carolina, scoring nine points with a career-best 10 rebounds. In his highest-scoring effort, Jennings scored a career-high 27 points on 13-of-15 shooting at UCLA.
FINDING THE RANGE: Sophomore guard Kris Gulley shot over 50 percent in the first three games for Long Beach State, and is averaging 6.5 points per game. On Nov. 29 at LMU, Gulley tied a career-high with 12 points, shooting 66 percent and grabbing 10 rebounds, making the team's first double-double of the season, and Gulley has now shot 50% or better in six of the team's 12 games this season. In 2012-13, Gulley is third on the team with 15 3-pointers, and is shooting 49.5 percent behind the arc, and 42.2 percent overall while adding 4.4 rebounds per game.
PAPPAGEORGE SPOTTING UP: Senior Peter Pappageorge has made the most of the opportunity to start, eight straight following his insertion to the lineup at Arizona. One of the team's captains, Pappageorge scored a career high 16 points against the Wildcats, and then topped that effort with 23 points at Fresno State, leading the 49ers in a win over the Bulldogs. Pappageorge made four 3-pointers in each of those games, and is second on the team with 18 3-pointers made on 30.5% shooting, averaging 7.3 points per game.
BACK TO BACK GAMES AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS: Twice now in 2012-13, Long Beach State has played ranked opponents in two straight games. Having already played No. 11 North Carolina on Friday, Nov. 16 in Long Beach, the 49ers then played No. 10 Arizona in Tucson, on Nov. 19. The 49ers then had a long road trip to the east, playing at No. 4 Syracuse and No. 7 Ohio State in consecutive games before returning to Long Beach. The 49ers have now played back-to-back ranked opponents under Dan Monson four times opposed to only once under any other LBSU coach. (Tex Winter; Jan 5-6, 1979). Previously, Long Beach State last played ranked opponents in back-to-back games in 2009, when the 49ers played at No. 3 Kentucky (12/23) and No. 7 Duke (12/29).
LONG BEACH STATE PICKED TO WIN THIRD STRAIGHT BIG WEST TITLE: Long Beach State earned 13 first-place votes and 194 points to emerge the favorite for the 2012-13 Big West men's basketball title, according to the annual preseason media poll. The 49ers outdistanced Cal State Fullerton, which accumulated 164 points with six first-place votes, and third-place UC Irvine's 153 points and one first-place vote. The 21-member media panel tabbed new Big West member Hawaii for fourth place with 132 points, followed by UC Santa Barbara in fifth (129). Picking up the lone remaining first-place nod was Pacific, which tallied 113 points for sixth place in the poll.