Long Beach State's Central Coast Trip Up Next For Men's Basketball
Jan. 14, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. -
Game: Long Beach State vs. UC Santa Barbara
Tyler Lamb, a junior transfer from UCLA, became eligible for the 49ers on December 19, and has immediately had a huge impact. 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 has scored in double-figures in all six games he's played with the 49ers, and is averaging a team-high 18.3 points per game.
Since the arrival of Lamb and Travis Hammonds, The 49ers have gone 4-2 overall, their only losses coming at a ranked Missouri squad and in a two-point loss at home to UC Irvine. The 49ers were 1-9 prior to the arrival of the high-scoring duo.
The 49ers have cleaned up their ball-handling over their last 10 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 10.2 turnovers per game, nearly five less per game after their 1-4 start.
Long Beach State's Thursday game against UC Santa Barbara has been picked as the first "Wild Card" game of the Big West season, and will be broadcast live on ESPNU. Kanoa Leahey and Bill Herenda will have the call for Thursday's game.
Senior Dan Jennings continues to put up big numbers for the 49ers in his final season. Jennings ranks fourth in the Big West in rebounding with 7.5 rebounds per game, and is third on the 49ers with 10.5 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 12 games. The junior college transfer scored a career-high 19 points against Montana State-Billings, and is fourth on the team with an 8.6 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 seventh on the team in scoring, averaging 5.3 points per game and is second on the team with 38 assists.
Junior college transfer David Samuels picked up his second double-double of the year against UC Davis, putting up 10 points and 10 rebounds against the Aggies. Samuels finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds at NC State while recording his first double-double earlier in the season. His 6.1 rebounds per game rank 11th in the Big West, and second on the team behind Jennings.
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 had an outstanding game against UCI, leading The Beach with 12 points. His true breakout came Saturday against UC Davis however, scoring 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting with six rebounds, four assists and three steals to lead the 49ers over the Aggies.
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, and will remain on the sidelines indefinitely.
THIS AND THAT
Long Beach State's strength of schedule is also objectively among the highest - the 49ers closed out non-conference rank as having the No. 3 Non-Conference SOS as ranked by kenpom.com. The LBSU schedule was also ranked No. 2 by WarrenNolan.com at the conclusion of non-conference play, where it still remains heading into the Central Coast trip.
Unlucky is the only word for it -- the 49ers lost the first three games that the team shot over 50% to start the season, contributing to the team's slow 1-9 start. The 49ers won their first hot shooting game Saturday against UC Davis, hitting a season-high 55.9% of the team's shots (38-68).Meanwhile, the team is just under .500 while shooting under 50% at 4-7.
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 109 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.
ABOUT UC SANTA BARBARA
UCSB is led by star junior Alan Williams. Williams was a preseason All-Big West selection, and the 6-7 center is putting together a monster campaign. Williams leads the Big West in both scoring and rebounding, averaging a double-double at 24.3 points per game and 11.1 rebounds per contest. Williams is also a force defensively, blocking 2.5 shots per game, second in the Big West behind 7'6" Mamadou Ndaiye of UC Irvine.
In the second-most played series at Long Beach State, the 49ers hold a 61-55 all-time edge in a competitve series, but have earned it with five straight wins over the Gauchos. Long Beach State shook two straight years of demons by sweeping the series in 2011-12, winning both regular season games before taking the Big West Tournament Championship against UCSB that season to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The 49ers then won both meetings between the teams a season ago.
While the teams did not meet in 2012-13 in the Big West Tournament, the three seasons prior all ended with a Long Beach State - UC Santa Barbara matchup in the championship match. UCSB won in both 2009-10 and 2010-11, earning two straight NCAA berths while Long Beach State finally moved over the edge in 2012-13 with a 77-64 win behind an epic 33-point performance from Casper Ware.