Feb. 28, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. -
Game: Long Beach State at Cal State Fullerton
Date: Saturday, March 1, 2014
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Fullerton, Calif.
Arena: Titan Gym (4,000)
TV Talent: Trent Schlom, Richie Schueler
Radio: KBEACH.org; HD 88.1-3
Radio Talent: Jason Schwartz
Live Stats: longbeachstate.com
Rivalry Week is upon the 49ers with three games to play, as Long Beach State travels to Cal State Fullerton Saturday, with Tip-Off Scheduled for 6 p.m. on ESPN3. Long Beach State looks to keep pace with UC Irvine, one game out of first place, as well as UC Santa Barbara, as the Anteaters, Gauchos, and 49ers jostle for the top spot in the Big West.
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 passed two more players Thursday, and now stands as tied with Greg Plater as the No. 18 all-time scorer at Long Beach State.
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 16.0 points per game, ranking seventh in the Big West and has scored over 20 points nine times on the year. Caffey is also leading the team with 115 assists, and is third in rebounding with 4.6 boards per game. His 34.78 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 12-1 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.
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. Jason Schwartz will make his second appearance on the call Thursday as a replacement for Brender, who remains in Florida for Spring Training.
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 14 of the 17 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 fourth in the Big West in rebounding with 8.2 rebounds per game, and is third on the 49ers with 10.1 points per game. Four times Jennings has led the 49ers in scoring, and has topped the team in rebounding 18 times in 2013-14, including recording his sixth double-double of the year against Hawai'i with 15 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 Cal State Northridge on Jan. 25.
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 helped lift the 49ers over Hawai'i on the road 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 5.4 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 5.3 points per game and is second on the team with 50 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 fifth on the team in scoring, averaging 6.1 points per game with 3.1 boards per game.
THIS AND THAT
Long Beach State will finish the season with 19 games broadcast on either national television or on the ESPN networks. That marks the most regular season total television appearances ever for Long Beach State, and the most national appearances since the 2011-12 campaign, equalling that season with 14.
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 117 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 continues to lead the Big West in scoring margin, currently +7.2 with three games left to play. That margin is two full points higher than the next closest team, UC Irvine. The 49ers also rank second in both steals and turnover margin, playing strong defense through 13 games of conference play.
ABOUT CAL STATE FULLERTON
Cal State Fullerton currently stands in seventh place in the Big West, and is looking to hold off UC Davis and UC Riverside down the stretch to hold on for a spot in the Big West Tournament.
Michael Williams leads the Titans, averaging 17.5 points per game, good for fifth in the Big West. The senior guard has been even more prolific in Big West games, averaging 20.0 points per game, 3rd in the Big West.
Long Beach State leads the all-time series 61-43 between the rivals, with the Titans being one of just two schools the 49ers have played more than 100 times (UCSB).
The 49ers dominated the first meeting between the teams in the Walter Pyramid on February 1. Mike Caffey scored 23 points and Tyler Lamb added 18 as the 49ers shot over 55 percent on the night in a 19-point victory.
Long Beach State won last year's meeting in Titan Gym, avenging a 2011-12 loss on the road at Cal State Fullerton, which was also the last time The Beach dropped a game to the Titans, a streak that now stands at four games following a sweep last season including a 75-66 win in the first round of the Big West Tournament last year.
Alex Harris is the other main scorer for Cal State Fullerton, who is averaging 15.3 points per game overall and 17.8 points per game in conference play.
Long Beach State closes out its road schedule, traveling to play Cal State Northridge at 7 p.m. in the Matadome next Thursday.
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