Jan. 2, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. -
Game: Long Beach State at No. 25 Missouri
Date: Saturday, January 4, 2013
Time: 4:00 p.m., CST (2:00 p.m. PST)
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Arena: Mizzou Arena (15,061)
TV: Fox Sports Midwest
TV Talent: Chris Gervino and Jon Sundvold
Radio: KBEACH.org; HD 88.1-3
Radio Talent: Rob Brender
Live Stats: longbeachstate.com
Long Beach State is in the midst of a three-game winning streak, just the third such streak in non-conference play under Dan Monson, as LBSU annually plays one of the nation's most difficult non-conference schedules. The 49ers previously won three games in a row in 2011-12 on the way to advancing to the NCAA Tournament. The other such streak came in 2008-09, as the 49ers won four straight, including two overtime wins, starting the season 4-2.
Tyler Lamb, a junior transfer from UCLA, became eligible for the 49ers on December 19, and has immediately had a huge impact, leading Long Beach State to three wins. Lamb scored 20 points off of the bench against USC, helping the 49ers earn their first win over a Pac-12 opponent at home since 1999 in a 72-71 win. Lamb scored a career-high 29 points, helping Long Beach State erase a six-point halftime deficit in a 82-75 win over Montana State-Billings. Entering the starting lineup, the junior transfer scored 17 points against Nevada last Saturday.
Facing No. 25 Missouri Saturday, the 49ers will play their fourth ranked opponent this season, matching the team's amount from last season. Long Beach State is 0-3 against the Top 25 this season; falling on the road at Arizona 91-57 and dropping an 85-61 loss in the team's first game in Puerto Rico to Michigan. The closest game came against VCU, where the 49ers loss by six, 73-67, also at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The 49ers have played at least four ranked opponents in each of the last three years.
The 49ers have cleaned up their ball-handling over their last 9 games, and it has resulted in better success on the floor. After averaging almost 15 turnovers per game in the first five contests, Long Beach State has averaged 10.5 turnovers per game, nearly five less while going 3-5 in those games.
Rob Brender returns for his fifth season of play-by-play for Long Beach State. His audio call can be found at kbeach.org and on 88.1-3 HD Radio or via the KBEACH Radio App. Additionally, live streaming can be found at bigwest.org/tv for all 49er home games.
Junior Mike Caffey received Preseason All-Big West honors, one of six players picked one season after earning First-Team All-Big West honors as a sophomore. Caffey leads the 49ers in scoring with 17.5 points per game, ranking fourth in the Big West and has scored over 20 points five times on the year, including a game-high 26 at Nevada. Caffey is also leading the team with 55 assists, and is third in rebounding with 4.5 boards per game.
Senior Dan Jennings continues to put up big numbers for the 49ers in his final season. Jennings ranks third in the Big West in rebounding with 8.4 rebounds per game, and is second on the 49ers with 11.6 points per game. Three times Jennings has led the 49ers in scoring, and has topped the team in rebounding eight times in 2013-14.
After scoring 12 points against Loyola Marymount, junior A.J. Spencer has secured a spot in the starting lineup, scoring in double-figures in eight of the last 11 games. The junior college transfer scored a career-high 19 points against Montana State-Billings, and is third on the team with an 9.3 ppg average.
Originally serving as a backup to Mike Caffey, Branford Jones forced his way into the starting lineup as an extra ball-handler against VCU, and responded with a breakout game, scoring 19 points in 37 minutes with just one turnover against VCU's havoc defense. The redshirt freshman is continuing to showcase much of the promise the guard showed before going down with an ankle injury in the first game of the year last season. Jones currently ranks fifth on the team in scoring, averaging 6.5 points per game and is second on the team with 35 assists.
Junior college transfer David Samuels had his best game as a 49er at NC State, posting his first double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds. That was the fourth double-double on the year for LBSU, with Dan Jennings putting up three in the first 10 games for the 49ers. Samuels' 5.6 rebounds per game rank 12th in the Big West, and is second on Long Beach State.
The 49ers also bring in freshman Travis Hammonds, who will join Long Beach State after enrolling for the spring semester. Hammonds is a 6-6 guard who hails from Columbia, S.C., and scored his first two points of the season from the line against Nevada.
Charles Lockett remains on a redshirt year, and senior forward Edgar Garibay is out for the year with an ACL tear. Nick Shepherd is the latest injury casualty, out with a wrist fracture, while freshman Anson Moye is still recovering from a broken foot, but is looking to return to the team soon.
THIS AND THAT
Long Beach State's strength of schedule is also objectively among the highest - the 49ers currently rank as having the No. 6 SOS as ranked by kenpom.com. It is also ranked No. 3 by WarrenNolan.com.
Unlucky is the only word for it -- the 49ers have lost all three games that the team has shot over 50% thus far in the season, contributing to the teams overall record, in a mark that is an outlier in performance ... Meanwhile, the team is just under .500 while shooting under .500 at 4-6.
With Long Beach State's win Dec. 19 against USC, Dan Monson moved into second-place in coaching wins at Long Beach State with 106, passing Seth Greenberg. Monson currently has 108 wins at Long Beach State. The top spot is held by Jerry Tarkanian, who won 122 games as the coach of the 49ers from 1968 to 1973.
Long Beach State and Missouri have met once before, playing in the Maui Classic during the 1986-87 season, with the Tigers winning in the final game of the tournament for both teams. Derrick Chievous led the Tigers with 23 points, while Morlon Wiley led the 49ers with 13.
Missouri head coach Frank Haith has had an immediate impact with the Tigers in his three seasons with the team. Posting a 59-17 overall record, Haith won 30 games in his first season, and led the Tigers to 10 straight wins before a one-point loss to Illinois gave the Tigers their first loss.
The teams have had two common opponents this season; both squads played at NC State, with Missouri winning 68-64 while the 49ers fell in Raleigh 76-66. Each team also boasts a win over Nevada, with Long Beach State winning in overtime in its last game, while Missouri won 83-70 in Las Vegas at a neutral site.
The backcourt matchup will be what to watch for Saturday. Mike Caffey, Tyler Lamb and A.J. Spencer, one of the best backcourts in the Big West, will face off with Jordan Clarkson, Jabari Brown, and Earnest Ross, one of the best backcourts in the SEC. All three Tigers are averaging double-figures in 2013-14, led by Clarkson, who is averaging 20 points and 4.3 assists per game.
The Black and Blue Rivalry kicks off Big West Conference play with a bang, as the 49ers host UC Irvine to start the 16-game conference slate. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m., the second game of a double-header with the women, and will also be televised nationally on Fox Sports Prime Ticket. Long Beach State holds a commanding 15-0 lead thus far in the 2013-14 Black and Blue Rivalry.
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