Long Beach State 49ers (2-10)
- Conference/Location: Big West (Long Beach, CA)
- Head Coach: Dan Monson (10th Season)
- Top Performer: Evan Payne (13.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG)
- Points For: 71.3 PPG (244th)
- Points Against: 83.4 PPG (337th)
- Last Game/Streak: 71-65 Loss @ Texas (1L)
The second game on the slate for the highly anticipated Dam City Classic, Oregon State will square off with a tough and tested Long Beach State team on Friday night in Portland, hopeful to snap their current seven game losing skid against Division I opponents. It’ll be a task easier said than done, with an opponent like the 49ers, who are a much better outfit than their 2-10 record shows.
Long Beach State knew this was going to be a rocky start to the season, as head coach Dan Monson had one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country on hand for this team, with the 49ers already having played nine games away from home to start the campaign, including road trips to Wichita State, North Carolina, Louisville, UCLA, Washington, Kansas and Texas. All of these games are played however, to prepare the 49ers for their Big West Conference schedule, where Long Beach State is expected to be considered as heavy favorites.
One of the main factors in what could be Long Beach State’s eventual success this season is star player and leading scorer Evan Payne (13.5 PPG), who is coming off a 26 point performance against Texas, in which the prolific junior buried a school-record eight three pointers. Payne, along with excitable guards Justin Bibbins (9.5 PPG), Noah Blackwell (6.6 PPG) and Jordan Griffin (5.5 PPG), creates a deep and improving 49ers back-court, who have shown only flashes of their brilliant potential, while matched up against some of the most fearsome guards in the country.
In the front-court, the 49ers rely on two steady pieces in Gabe Levin (12.2 PPG) and Temidayo Yussuf (6.4 PPG) to do the dirty work for what could be considered a guard-friendly Long Beach State offense, that operates in a mostly free-flowing and spread type of style. Look for the 49ers to push the pace when the opportunities present themselves but to also be a methodical half-court team, especially against a lackluster defensive type of opponent like Oregon State.
Keys To The Game
⇛ Contain Evan Payne
A transfer from LMU, where he left the program last March as the team’s leading scorer, prolific guard Evan Payne hasn’t missed a beat since joining the Long Beach State program, as now, a Big West Player of the Year season potentially awaits him. Already averaging 13.5 PPG on the season, Payne has scored a combined 43 points in his last two outings, since returning from an ankle injury that forced him to miss match-ups against Kansas and New Mexico State. Containing Payne’s high-octane scoring tendencies will be a crucial factor for Oregon State, if they want to find the win column once again.
⇛ Can The Beavers Defend?
The Beavers allowed 93 points to a Savannah State team that basically stuck strictly to their scouting report, got up-and-down the court at will and saw little resistance from the collective defense of Oregon State at any point during the game. Not a good sign for the Beavers, who are heading into a game against a team that already tallied 88 and 77 points respectively against two other Pac-12 teams this year in Washington and UCLA. To realistically expect to knock off the 49ers, Oregon State has to keep Dan Monson’s guys somewhere under the 65-point mark.
⇛ The Bench Needs To Come Alive
Oregon State’s starting core of Drew Eubanks, Kendal Manuel, Stephen Thompson and Jaquori McLaughlin actually haven't been all that bad despite the team’s atrocious record and for the most part, it’s been a simple case of a serious lack of depth that’s hampered this Beavers team on both ends of the floor. A cause of this is likely the fact that players like forward Matt Dalhen are now being asked to start and play significant minutes, due to a multitude of injuries across the board, but the bench simply must do more. With Cheikh N’diane likely out indefinitely with a shoulder injury, it’s time for players like Ronnie Stacy and the newly inserted Ben Kone to step into bigger roles.
Player To Watch
Guard - Justin Bibbins (Junior)
The team’s third leading scorer, averaging 9.5 PPG, junior guard Justin Bibbins is a “Player to Watch” for Long Beach State for a multitude of reasons, the first and foremost of them being his ability to be a coach on the floor of the 49ers with his unique brand of toughness, despite his slight 5’ 8” frame. Bibbins, who averages 4.1 APG, which is almost three more dimes per outing than any other player on the roster, while also logging a team-high 31.8 minutes per game, can be seen as the focal point of Long Beach State’s offense, even with a capable scorer like Evan Payne alongside him. When Bibbins stays involved in the offense, the right plays seem to be made at the right time, which was evident in his seven assist performance against Texas, where the 49ers still had a shot to dethrone the Longhorns in the waning minutes. Look for Bibbins ability to control his team to be a huge factor in how efficiently Long Beach State operates for a full forty minutes in this one.