Jan. 27, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. -
Game: Long Beach State at Hawai'i
Date: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m., HST
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Arena: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300)
TV Talent: None
Radio: KBEACH.org; HD 88.1-3
Radio Talent: Rob Brender
Live Stats: hawaiiathletics.com
In a non-stop conference schedule, the 49ers play two critical games this week. The 49ers start the week by traveling to Hawai'i, a locale where the 49ers have dropped five straight games, and have yet to win since the Rainbow Warriors' entry into the conference. Long Beach State then has a quick return to Long Beach, hosting Cal State Fullerton in a rivalry game on Saturday.
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 is leading the 49ers in scoring with 16.5 points per game, ranking sixth in the Big West and has scored over 20 points six times on the year, most recently against CSUN in Saturday's 76-62 win. Caffey is also leading the team with 81 assists, and is third in rebounding with 4.5 boards per game. His 34.47 minutes per game average is also the highest in the Big West this season. Caffey passed 900 points scored in his career against the Matadors, and is closing in on becoming Long Beach State's 23rd 1,000 point scorer.
Since the arrival of Travis Hammonds and Tyler Lamb, success hasn't been too far away; defensively, the team has been competitive, making the team's offensive output the key to victory. The key number is shooting 35%; Since Dec. 19, the team is 6-0 when passing that number while going 0-3 when shooting under that mark.
The 49ers have cleaned up their ball-handling over their last 14 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 10.1 turnovers per game, nearly five less per game after their 1-4 start. LBSU also leads the league in turnover margin at +4.8 through five games.
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 eight of nine games he's played with the 49ers, and is averaging 16.1 points per 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 7.6 rebounds per game, and is third on the 49ers with 10.2 points per game. Three times Jennings has led the 49ers in scoring, and has topped the team in rebounding 11 times in 2013-14, including recording his fifth double-double of the year last Saturday with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Jennings also became the first 49er in two years to have a perfect day from the field, shooting 6-for-6 against the Matadors.
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 14 games. The junior college transfer scored a career-high 19 points against Montana State-Billings, and is fourth on the team with an 8.3 ppg average.
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 5.6 rebounds per game rank 13th in the Big West, and second on the team behind Jennings.
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 4.8 points per game and is second on the team with 40 assists.
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.
Hawai'i has played very well on the island this season, posting a 10-2 record at home and a 1-0 mark in Big West play this year. The Rainbow Warriors also picked up two big wins in California last week, winning at UC Davis before toppling league leader UC Irvine in the Bren Events Center 90-86 in overtime.
2012-13 All-Big West selection Christian Standhardinger and Isaac Fotu provide Hawai'i with a steller frontcourt, one of the best pairs in the conference. Standhardinger is averaging 18.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, while Fotu is second on the squad in each category with 14.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per contest.
Long Beach State leads the all-time series 7-6 against the newest member of the Big West. The 49ers won the first five games between the teams leading up to 1978, but lost five of six before the Hawai'i joining the Big West in 2012-13. The teams split last year's meetings, with the 49ers winning 76-72 at home behind a 18 point, six assist performance from Mike Caffey.
The 49ers have had a tough time in Hawaii, losing five straight, with the last win for Long Beach State coming under Jerry Tarkanian in 1970. In last year's road game, the first as conference foes, the Rainbow Warriors dominated the first half, taking a 53-20 lead on the way to a 94-73 rout.
Long Beach State returns home for a rivalry game with Cal State Fullerton, hosting the Titans at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the Walter Pyramid, with a live online broadcast on ESPN3.
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