Dec. 16, 2013
Long Beach, Calif. -
Game: Long Beach State vs. USC
Date: Thursday, December 19, 2013
Time: 7:30 p.m. PST
Location: Long Beach, Calif.
Arena: Walter Pyramid (4,200)
TV: Fox Sports Prime Ticket
TV Talent: Ron Pitts, Michael Cage, Rashaun Haylock
Radio: [KBEACH.org; HD 88.1-3], (KSPN 710 AM)
Radio Talent: [Rob Brender], (Chris Fisher, Brandon Glanville)
Live Stats: longbeachstate.com
Long Beach State's starting lineup has been the major force for the 49ers this year. All five are averaging over 25 minutes per game, and as a group, the starters account for 81.6 percent of the team's scoring and 67.2 percent of the team's rebounding on the year.
Mike Caffey and Dan Jennings each scored over 20 points at Washington, the first such effort for the 49ers since the UCLA game last season on Dec. 18, 2012. The pair has scored in double-figures together in seven of ten games this season, with Jennings scoring 18 and Caffey scoring 16 in the team's last outing at NC State.
The two-point guard lineup that the 49ers have utilized the last two games has paid off for the 49ers in terms of ball control. With both Mike Caffey and Branford Jones in the starting lineup, Long Beach State has had just 56 turnovers in the last five games, an average of just over 11 per game.
With the opening day win over Hawaii Pacific, Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson tied Seth Greenberg with 105 wins at Long Beach State. That mark ranks tied for second in school history. Jerry Tarkanian has the most victories as a 49er head coach, winning 122 games from 1968 to 1973.
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. Additionally, live streaming can be found at bigwest.org/tv for all 49er home games.
Thursday's game will be the first home game to be broadcast nationally in 2013-14 for Long Beach State, as Fox Sports Prime Ticket will be showing the game, the first of four games in the Walter Pyramid that will be shown by the network. Additionally, Fox Sports Radio's Petros and Money show will have a live remote on-site from Noon to 4 p.m. for the show on AM 570 locally. The USC broadcast will also be live on the radio in the area on KSPN 710 AM.
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 leads the 49ers in scoring with 16.0 points per game, and has scored over 20 points three times on the year. Caffey is also leading the team with 43 assists, and is third in rebounding with 4.0 boards per game.
Senior Dan Jennings continues to put up big numbers for the 49ers in his final season. Jennings ranks 4th in the Big West in rebounding with 8.3 rebounds per game, and is 15th in scoring at 12.7 points per game. Three times Jennings has led the 49ers in scoring, and has topped the team in rebounding five times in 2013-14.
After scoring 12 points against Loyola Marymount, junior A.J. Spencer has secured a spot in the starting lineup, scoring in double-figures in six of the last eight games. The junior college transfer scored a career high 14 points against VCU, and is third on the team with an 8.8 ppg average.
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 fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 7.4 points per game and is second on the team with 22 assists.
Junior college transfer David Samuels had his best game as a 49er at NC State, posting his first double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds. That was the fourth double-double on the year for LBSU, with Dan Jennings putting up three in the first 10 games for the 49ers. Samuels' 6.3 rebounds per game rank 12th in the Big West, and is second on Long Beach State.
Junior Tyler Lamb will be eligible once grades post for the fall semester, which ends on Dec. 18 at Long Beach State. Lamb could be available for the 49ers as early as this week, either against USC on December 19 or against Montana State-Billings on Saturday, December 21. Lamb averaged 9.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game in 32 starts as a sophomore for UCLA.
Long Beach State has won 26 consecutive home Big West games in an active streak running since the 49ers' last defeat on February 17, 2010 against Pacific. The 49ers won at home, 76-74 to close out the 2010 regular season, and have since stayed unbeaten at home over the last three years, during which the 49ers have won the regular season Big West title in each season.
Long Beach State is scheduled to play at least 12 games on national television this season, and could play as many as 17 depending on TV choices. After starting off with a game on the Pac-12 network at Arizona, the 49ers will also play on TV at Kansas State, Washington, NC State, and Missouri. Additionally, all three games of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off will be televised. Long Beach State's Dec. 19 meeting with USC will be carried live on Fox Sport Prime Ticket, as will two home games against Cal Poly and Hawaii. Additionally, five other Big West dates could feature the 49ers in "Wild Card" TV choices from the broadcast partners.
The Big West announced the addition of an additional broadcast package with ESPN3, which will carry additional games during the conference season. For Long Beach State, that includes three additional games that were originally not televised (2/8-UCR; 2/13-UCSB; 3/8-UCR) as well as a guarantee of ESPN coverage for two "Wild Card" dates on March 1 (Cal State Fullerton) and March 6 (Cal State Northridge).
THIS AND THAT
Long Beach State will again face 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, travelled to Washington and NC State, and games against USC and Missouri still remain among games against the BCS conferences.
Long Beach State's strength of schedule is also objectively among the highest - the 49ers currently rank as having the No. 7 SOS as ranked by kenpom.com,
The 49ers' nine-game skid is the longest since the 2007-08 season; Long Beach State lost the final eight games of Monson's first campaign, and dropped the first two the next season in a 10-game losing streak over two years.
Unlucky is the only word for it -- the 49ers have lost all three games that the team has shot over 50% thus far in the season, contributing to the teams overall record, in a mark that is an outlier in performance.
Senior guard Byron Wesley is the top player for the Trojans, averaging 17.3 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game, leading USC in both categories.
USC enters Thursday's game with a 7-3 overall record, but is 2-0 against Big West opponents, defeating Cal State Northridge 95-79 and Cal State Fullerton 76-62. Both of those games were played on the Trojans' home floor in the Galen Center.
The two teams played just last year, with Long Beach State falling in a defensive struggle 62-44. The 49ers shot just 28.6 percent from the field in the loss, and were led by Mike Caffey who scored 17 points.
The two Southern California schools have med a total of 13 times, with USC leading the series 8 wins to 5. That includes both the last meeting in 2012 as well as the last time the two teams played in the Walter Pyramid, an 86-68 defeat in December of 2001.
Prior to the 2001 game, the 49ers had won three straight games over the Trojans in Long Beach, including a 76-66 victory in 1999, the last win for Long Beach State over USC. The NIT-bound 49ers went 24-6 overall, sharing the Big West title in that season. Mate Milisa scored 15 points, leading four 49ers in double-figures as LBSU picked up the 10-point win.
The homestand continues for Long Beach State as the 49ers host Montana State-Billings at Noon on Saturday, December 21.
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