Long Beach State Faces Critical Road Game At UC Irvine
Feb. 4, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. -
Game: Long Beach State at UC Irvine
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 17.4 points per game, ranking fifth in the Big West and has scored over 20 points nine times on the year, including three out of the last four games. Caffey is also leading the team with 90 assists, and is third in rebounding with 4.6 boards per game. His 34.76 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.
Caffey is within reach of passing 1,000 carer points this week; he needs 38 more points to reach the plateau and start making his way up a list of former great 49ers. First on the list is NBA great Bryon Russell, who scored 1,003 points in four seasons at The Beach, followed by George Trapp, a great on Jerry Tarkanian's 70's teams.
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 8-0 when passing that number while going 0-3 when shooting under that mark.
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 7.9 rebounds per game, and is third on the 49ers with 9.8 points per game. Three times Jennings has led the 49ers in scoring, and has topped the team in rebounding 13 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 recently helped lift the 49ers over Hawai'i scoring a career-high 24 points, and is fourth on the team with an 9.0 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 sixth on the team in scoring, averaging 5.3 points per game and is second on the team with 43 assists.
The 49ers also bring in freshman Travis Hammonds, who joined 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 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
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 113 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's four-game winning streak has allowed the 49ers to open up the Big West's largest advantage in scoring margin, sitting at +7.6 after seven games. The 49ers are also somewhat surprisingly leading the conference in rebounding with 37.9 boards per game. Long beach State also ranks in the top four in conference play in both scoring offense (71.4, 4th) and scoring defense (63.9, 3rd)
ABOUT UC IRVINE
UC Irvine has won three straight games against the 49ers. The Anteaters won the last meeting between the teams at the Bren Events Center last season before knocking Long Beach State out of the Big West Tournament one season ago. This year, UC Irvine won a tough defensive matchup between the two teams, winning 46-44 in the Walter Pyramid back on January 9.
Featuring one of the biggest front lines in the Big West, UCI is anchored by 7-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye, who had four blocks and 11 rebounds. However, more importantly in the last matchup, defensively, UC Irvine held Mike Caffey to just two points, the lowest total in the last two years for the All-Big West guard.
Long Beach State currently holds the lead the Black & Blue Rivalry Series at 17-3; the only loss in 2013-14 for the 49ers came at the hands of the Men's Basketball team on January 9.