Long Beach State Returns Home To Host Cal State Fullerton Saturday
Jan. 31, 2014
Long Beach, Cailf. -
Game: Long Beach State vs. Cal State Fullerton
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 17.2 points per game, ranking fifth in the Big West and has scored over 20 points eight times on the year, most recently with a career high 29 at Hawai'i. Caffey is also leading the team with 84 assists, and is third in rebounding with 4.5 boards per game. His 34.65 minutes per game average is also the highest in the Big West this season. Caffey passed 900 points scored in his career against Cal State Northridge on Jan. 25, and is rapidly closing in on becoming Long Beach State's 23rd 1,000 point scorer.
Since the arrival of Travis Hammonds and Tyler Lamb, the 49ers have turned things around after a 1-9 start. 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 7-0 when passing that number while going 0-3 when shooting under that mark.
The 49ers have cleaned up their ball-handling over their last 15 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.
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 7.8 rebounds per game, and is third on the 49ers with 10.0 points per game. Three times Jennings has led the 49ers in scoring, and has topped the team in rebounding 12 times in 2013-14, including recording his fifth double-double of the year against CSUN 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 nine times. The junior college transfer most recently helped lift the 49ers over Hawai'i scoring a career-high 24 points, and is fourth on the team with an 9.1 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 14th 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 5.2 points per game and is second on the team with 41 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.
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.
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 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 6-9.
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 112 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 CAL STATE FULLERTON
This year's Titans, under first-year head coach Dedrique Taylor. Cal State Fullerton is led by Senior Michael Williams, a 6-2 guard that is averaging 16.0 points per game. The only other Titan that is averaging double-figures is junior guard Alex Harris at 13.1 points per game.
Along with the close distance between he schools, familiarity is a big part of the Long Beach State rivalry with Cal State Fullerton. Long Beach State and the Titans have each schools most played series, with Long Beach State holding the lead 60-43 in over 100 meetings between the two schools. The 49ers have also won three straight at home in the Walter Pyramid, with the last loss coming in overtime during the 2010 Big West campaign.
This season, Cal State Fullerton is coming off one of its biggest wins of the year, upsetting UC Santa Barbara at home last Saturday 76-74. Overall, the Titans are 7-12 and 2-3 in Big West play, having lost both of their previous conference games on the road as well as a game against Cal Poly in Titan Gym.