Teams: Creighton (5-2) vs. Long Beach St. (1-7)
Day: Tuesday, Dec. 3
Time: 10:00 PM ET
Location: Walter Pyramid; Long Beach, Calif.
TV: No TV; Free Webcast on BigWest.com
Radio: 1620 KZON-AM (Creighton) or KBEACH 88.1 FM (Long Beach State)
The Creighton Bluejays are coming off of a disappointing performance in the Wooden Legacy Tournament. Despite that though they are still one of the top offensive teams in the country, and it will be a while until they face a team as talented defensively as the San Diego St. Aztecs and George Washington Colonials are. The Long Beach St. 49ers rank 174th in the country in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, giving up 103.6 points per 100 possessions. Additionally, they are allowing an effective FG% of 51.9 percent, 240th in the nation. A trip to the Walter Pyramid could cure the Bluejays' shooting woes, but then again, that's still an assumption at the baseline.
Grant Gibbs' recent turnaround has been a large reason why Creighton has stayed competitive despite their two losses. He got into double figures in Sunday night's outing, and averaged 9.67 points per game in the Wooden Legacy Tournament. Additionally, GIbbs has found much of his metrics going up, with a TS% now sitting at 52.1 percent, and an effective FG% of 51.3 percent. He has also been a good rebounder and distributor lately, with a combined 14 rebounds and 10 assists in his last three games. He will be a player to watch in this game, as he continues to ease into his role in the 2013-14 season.
Long Beach State Storylines
It has been a rigorous stretch for the Long Beach St. 49ers. They stand at 1-7 on the season and are giving up 74.63 points per game, including 92 in a 2 OT loss to the Washington Huskies in their most recent encounter. The loss was Long Beach State's seventh consecutive loss, after a win to start the season against Hawaii Pacific. Offensively, it's much of the same story, checking in at 321st in the nation in points per game at 64.3, and they are 323rd in FG% with an average of 39.7 percent shooting on the floor. The shots are not falling for the 49ers, and not much has gone right for them since their opening game of the season.
However, if one thing has been consistent for the 49ers this season, it's the play of Michael Caffey. Caffey, a junior guard from Corona, Calif. has been the best player for the 49ers and their best scorer, as well. Caffey, who is accounting for 31.8 percent of Long Beach State's possessions is scoring 16.6 points per game at a 41 percent clip. Caffey has also been one of the country's best at his assist rate, 56th best in America at 33.1, and that is shown by his 4.5 assist per game average as well. If Long Beach State is to hang with the Bluejay offense, they are going to need a heavy dose of Michael Caffey on Tuesday evening.
The Bluejays bench, as a whole, has got to step up if Creighton wants to get back to their winning ways both now and going forward in the 2013-14 season. When looking at the statistics of late, they would have you believing that the bench is producing. In reality, they have mainly only been helped by the play of Devin Brooks and Ethan Wragge. Players like Isaiah Zierden and Avery Dingman have to look to make some sort of impact when they are on the floor, whether it be with points, or distributing and rebounding, because the minutes will only get more limited for them going forward if they do not play up to par, which only means that the starters will be used more, leading to tired play.
Dan Jennings has been a rather significant contributor to the offense of the 49ers this season. Used on 20.5 percent of possessions, Jennings is scoring 12.4 points per game and that is not the only area where he is making an impact. He is collecting a team-high 8.9 rebounds per game, which is good for an 11.5 offensive rebounding percentage, and 22.2 defensive rebounding percentage. The latter has been his strongest suit, ranking in the Top 150 in that category. Look for the senior forward from Staten Island, N.Y. to make an impact on the glass, especially with the struggles lately of center Will Artino.
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Let's put it this way: the chances of Doug McDermott having a bad night offensively like he did on Sunday night are probably slim and none. McDermott should get his, and it should not surprise many if the rest of the Bluejays find their stroke at "The Beach" on Tuesday evening. Another sluggish start could be in the cards, but Creighton should prevail against a team that has been tailspinning since early November. This should not be an instance in which Creighton coasts to a victory in Walter Pyramid, but late in the second half the game should be in the Bluejays' hands.
Creighton 79 Long Beach St. 68