Long Beach State Opens Big West Touranment Against Cal State Fullerton
March 10, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. -
Game: Long Beach State vs. Cal State Fullerton
Under Dan Monson, Long Beach State has been a Top 3 seed for the Big West Tournament in each of the last six years. The 49ers have also reached at least the semifinals in each of those seasons, all coming since Monson's first year at Long Beach State in 2008.
Junior Mike Caffey was selected as a First-Team All-Big West choice for the second straight season after leading Long Beach State to a 10-6 Big West record and leading the team in scoring with 16.2 points per game. Caffey joins a short list of 10 other players to be a two-time First-Team All-Conference selection, and with one season remaining, Caffey can join Larry Anderson, Francois Wise and Ed Ratleff as the only LBSU players to become a three-time First-Team All-Conference honoree.
All games of the Big West Tournament will be shown on national television. The quarterfinals will be shown on Fox Sports Prime Ticket, while ESPNU will show the semifinals and the championship game will be live on ESPN2.
Caffey is leading the 49ers in scoring with 16.2 points per game, ranking seventh in the Big West and has scored over 20 points 10 times on the year. Caffey is also leading the team with 129 assists, and is third in rebounding with 4.6 boards per game. His 34.57 minutes per game average is also second in the Big West this season.
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 17 of the 20 games he's played with the 49ers, led the team in scoring eight times, 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 8.5 rebounds per game, and is third on the 49ers with 10.3 points per game. Four times Jennings has led the 49ers in scoring, and has topped the team in rebounding 21 times in 2013-14, including recording his ninth double-double of the year against UC Riverside with 10 points and 13 rebounds; his fourth straight double-double. 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 8.8 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 5.1 rebounds per game rank 14th in the Big West, and second on the team behind Jennings.
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 6.3 points per game with 3.1 boards per game.
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 5.6 points per game and is second on the team with 53 assists.
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 118 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
Cal State Fullerton put on an offensive show in the second half in Titan Gym, shooting 62.1 percent on the way to 49 points in an 84-76 win over the 49ers. Michael Williams scored 28 points to lead the Titans, but Alex Harris added 22 and Marquis Horne scored 18 points, offsetting a big night from Mike Caffey, who scored 22 points for The Beach.
In the first meeting between the teams this season, it was the 49ers that controlled play, however, holding the Titans under 60 points in a 75-56 romp in the Walter Pyramid. Caffey scored 23 points and Tyler Lamb added 18 for the 49ers, while Long Beach State limited the Titans to 31.3 percent shooting back on February 1.
Long Beach State has had great success against their rivals in the Big West Tournament. The 49ers have never lost in the current conference to the Titans in the postseason, and the last loss came back in 1978. The 49ers have won five in a row, as well as a vacated game during the 2005-06 season. The teams met last season in the same round, with Long Beach State prevailing 75-66.
Michael Williams leads the Titans in scoring at 17.6 points per game, and earned Second-Team All-Big West honors for his season with the Titans. Alex Harris also earned Honorable Mention honors, scoring 15.5 points per game, second on the team behind Williams.