Feb. 11, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. -
Game: UC Santa Barbara at Long Beach State
Date: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Long Beach, Calif.
Arena: Walter Pyramid (4,200)
TV Talent: Trent Schlom, Richie Schuler
Radio: KBEACH.org; HD 88.1-3
Radio Talent: Rob Brender
Live Stats: longbeachstate.com
The 49ers host UC Santa Barbara in a matchup between the second and third place teams in the conference as the teams enter the heart of the second half of the Big West Conference slate. With a loss earlier in the year at UCSB, the 49ers need a win to keep pace with both the Gauchos and league-leading UCI in their quest to capture a fourth-consecutive regular season crown.
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 16.7 points per game, ranking sixth in the Big West and has scored over 20 points nine times on the year. Caffey is also leading the team with 100 assists, and is third in rebounding with 4.6 boards per game. His 34.74 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 easily within reach of passing 1,000 carer points this week; he needs 20 more points to reach the plateau and start making his way up a list of former great 49ers. First on the list is NBA standout 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 9-0 when passing that number while going 0-4 when shooting under that mark.
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. All untelevised home games will also be streamed live at www.bigwest.org/tv.
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 10 of the 13 games he's played with the 49ers, and is averaging 15.5 points 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 8.1 rebounds per game, and is third on the 49ers with 9.9 points per game. Four times Jennings has led the 49ers in scoring, and has topped the team in rebounding 14 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 11 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 9.3 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 5.5 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 5.4 points per game and is second on the team with 46 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. The true freshman picked up his first double-double at UC Irvine with 10 points and 10 rebounds, the third 49er of the year to record a double-double.
THIS AND THAT
Long Beach State once again faced a grueling non-conference schedule. The 49ers faced No. 5 Arizona in their first road test on November 11, and continued to play two more Top 15 opponents in No. 14 Michigan and No. 10 VCU at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The 49ers also faced a Big East opponent into the Walter Pyramid when Creighton arrived December 3. The 49ers have also played Kansas State twice, beat USC at home, travelled to Washington and NC State, and closed out non-conference play with a trip to No. 25 Missouri.
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.
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 114 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.
In conference play, Long Beach State is leading the league in one category which isn't surprising; steals, averaging 6.33 per game, led individually by Caffey, Lamb, and Hammonds. In a bit of a surprise, however, the 49ers are leading the league in rebounding as well, averaging 38.3 rebounds per game in Big West play, despite having no player taller than 6'9" active.
ABOUT UC SANTA BARBARA
Long Beach State had won five straight games against the Gauchos prior to a loss on the road in the Thunderdome on January 16. However, The 49ers still have won five straight games against UCSB in the Walter Pyramid, with the last loss coming in Dan Monson's first year at Long Beach State.
Alan Williams, the star of the Gauchos squad, is leading the Big West in both scoring and rebounding this season, averaging 23.1 points and 11.4 rebounds per game on the year. LBSU did a good job defensively against the big man at UCSB, holding Williams to 12 points, but Williams finished with 15 rebounds, part of a double-double, and was one of three players to finish in double-figures in that contest for the Gauchos.
Outside of Williams, both Kyle Boswell and Michael Bryson are averaging double-figures on the year. Boswell is averaging 11.3 points per game, while Bryson is sitting at 10.8 points per game.
Williams is also averaging a double-double in league play, with 22.6 points per game and 12.4 rebounds per in eight games played.
The series between the teams is the second-largest for LBSU, and is one of the team's closest, with the 49ers having a 61-56 edge in 117 meetings dating back to the 1951-52 season.
Long Beach State stays at home, hosting Cal Poly at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night in the Walter Pyramid. The game will be carried live on Fox Sports Prime Ticket.
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