Long Beach State Hosts Hawai'i Thursday
Feb. 24, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. -
Game: Long Beach State vs. Hawai'i
With 18 points February 15 against Cal Poly, junior Mike Caffey blew past the 1,000 point milestone at Long Beach State, becoming the 23rd player to reach the pleteau. Caffey also passed up two NBA players in Bryon Russell and George Trapp, and is now the No. 21 all-time scorer at Long Beach State. With double-figures Thursday against Hawai'i, Caffey can pass four other players, becoming the No. 17 scorer in school history.
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 16.4 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 112 assists, and is third in rebounding with 4.6 boards per game. His 34.69 minutes per game average is also second in the Big West this season.
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 11-1 when passing that number while going 0-4 when shooting under that mark. The only loss when shooting over that mark came against UCSB on a buzzer-beater.
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 8.1 rebounds per game, and is third on the 49ers with 10.0 points per game. Four times Jennings has led the 49ers in scoring, and has topped the team in rebounding 17 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 12 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 5.3 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 5.5 points per game and is second on the team with 48 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. Hammonds ranks sixth on the team in scoring, averaging 6.0 points per game with 3.0 boards per game.
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 116 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.
Following Saturday's nine-point win over Cal Poly, Long Beach State moved into the conference lead in scoring margin through 11 games, averaging a +7.7 margin, besting both UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine. The 49ers also rank second in both steals and turnover margin, playing strong defense through 12 games of conference play.
It was Long Beach State that put on an offensive show in the first meting between the teams in 2014, though, as the 49ers shot a season-high 60-percent from the field in a 92-83 victory. Mike Caffey scored 29 points and A.J. Spencer put up 24, both career highs as the 49ers picked up a big road win.
That win extended the LBSU lead in a tight series between the teams, as the 49ers now lead the all-time record 8-6. The teams split last season in the Rainbow Warriors' first season in the Big West.
The Rainbow Warriors have one preseason All-Big West selection, Christian Standhardinger, who is living up to his billing, leading Hawai'i this season. Standhardinger leads Hawaii in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 17.8 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game.
Averaging 80.6 points per game as a team, three other Hawai'i players are averaging double-figures on the year. Fotu is next with 15.7 points per game, while Garrett Nevels is averaging 13.9 points per game and Brandon Spearman is putting up 11.3 per game.