The Long Beach State 49ers will make yet another trip to Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, California, to battle the 21st place UCLA Bruins Monday night at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. UCLA has been dominant in the last few meetings versus the 49ers as they have picked up six straight wins; However, it should be mentioned that Long Beach State has done well for themselves against the spread recently versus UCLA as they have racked up a record of 3-1 against the number during this time, including covering as 17 point underdogs in 2019 as the Bruins were able to rally and pick up a 69-65 win. Currently, the Bruins are favored by 17.5 points while the total stands at 142.5 points for the contest.
Long Beach State will certainly have to bring the focus and intensity for this contest as UCLA has already played two games on the season and are seeking to win their second straight contest after taking out the Waves of Pepperdine in a back-and-forth affair that needed three overtimes in order for a winner to be decided. In addition to this, the Bruins will also be seeking to cover the spread for the second straight game as they were able to pick up a win against the spread versus the Waves as six-point favorites.
49ers seek to begin 2020 on winning noteThe 49ers enter their 2020 campaign losing only starter Joshua Morgan from last year’s squad, who averaged over eight points per game along with six boards in addition to recording 2.5 blocks per contest from his center position. Of course, the team will certainly miss his size at 6 ft 11 inches tall, however the 49ers enter the season having some size at the center position as senior Milos Apic stands at 6 foot 10 inches tall; However, he has not played since 2018 when he suited up eight games while having just one field goal on the season. On the other hand, Trevor Irish is a sophomore that is 7 foot tall while playing 31 games for the 49ers last season, yet averaged just 2.2 points per game along with 1.7 rebounds. Important to note that forwards Joe Hampton along with Raymond Hawkins also played limited minutes last season for Long Beach State and did not have much of an impact.
The fact is that this team happens to be a guard - laden squad and will rely on guards Chance Hunter, who averaged 14 points along with five rebounds in 2019, along with Michael Carter III, who averaged over 12 points per game while collecting three rebounds and three assists last year. Important to note that Hunter was an honorable mention on the All-Big West team last season as he was very efficient from the floor in shooting 45% along with 41% from long-range. Carter III, on the other hand, only shot 39% from the floor along with a dismal 31% from long range.
Also, expect guards Colin Slater, who averaged 10 points per game in 2019, along with Drew Cobb, who posted five points per game along with four rebounds, to step up in 2020 for the 49ers as well as Slater shot 38% from long range last year while Cobb converted on 45% of his field goals during this time.
In all, Long Beach State essentially returns a solid core from last year's squad; However, it should be noted that the 49ers ended last season on a sour note as they dropped seven of their last 11, overall . On the other hand, they ended the season on a high note against the number as they accumulated a record of 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight games of 2019. Again, Long Beach State has had success against the number versus UCLA in recent matchups and, despite taking the floor for the first time in 2020 Monday night, will be expected to show some fight as I am sure that they are chomping at the bit to get back onto the basketball court.
Bruins seek 7th straight win over 49ersThe Bruins certainly dealt with a huge amount of expectation entering their 2020 campaign as they ended last season on a high note in winning 11 of the last 14 games while also returning the bulk of their team from 2019. However, they have struggled a bit on both ends of the floor as they posted just 58 points in a 15-point loss versus the San Diego State Aztecs to open up their season while, despite posting 107 points in an overtime win over Pepperdine, gave up 98 points during this contest, including allowing the Waves to shoot a total of 33 free throws, which kept them in the game throughout.
It should be noted, however, that the Bruins played much better defense in this contest as they forced a total of 15 turnovers while giving up just 40% shooting to Pepperdine, including allowing them to convert on just nine of 41 three-point attempts. Nonetheless, the Bruins had trouble in keeping the offense in front of them as the starting five racked up a total of 22 fouls, including guard Jules Bernard along with forward Cody Riley having five for the contest. In all, for the season, despite giving up just under 43% shooting two opponents along with 28% shooting from long range, the Bruins continue to give up far too many points as teams are averaging over 85 points per outing. However, it should be mentioned that Long Beach State has indeed struggled on the offensive end in terms of points scored as they averaged just 67 points per game in 2019. Nonetheless, it should be pointed out that the team ranked 86th in the country in 3-point field goal percentage in connecting on 35% of their attempts last year.
Again, after a dismal offensive performance versus San Diego State, UCLA was able to shoot a tad better versus Pepperdine as they ended the contest shooting 44% while also sinking ten three-pointers, despite shooting 29% from long range for the contest. Furthermore, UCLA produced a total of three 20 + point scorers on the night as Bernard went 7-15 from the floor for 21 points along with six rebounds while Tyger Campbell went just 3-9 from three-point range, yet finished the game with 22 points, six rebounds, along with seven assists. Important to mention that guard Chris Smith also shined in this game as he went 8-17 from the floor while going 2-4 from three-point range in addition to sinking 8 of 9 free throws to finish the game with a double-double to lead the team with 26 points along with 12 rebounds and six assists. Smith also had four turnovers to lead the team. Nonetheless, UCLA was able to pound the boards as they finished with 46 total rebounds compared to just 38 for Pepperdine, which is certainly a positive sign .
In all, UCLA must be able to better utilize their size and experience in this contest if they are to pick up their seventh straight win over Long Beach State. However, the Bruins must play disciplined on both ends of the court as well as they will not only need to be consistent in putting points on the board, but will also be called upon to prevent an offense for Long Beach State from gaining any type of confidence as they have been known to be dangerous in the open court as well as from beyond the arc .
Stats & Trends
- 49ers are 5-2-1 ATS in last eight games
- Bruins are 1 - 3 ATS in last four home meetings versus 49ers
- Bruins are 1-5 ATS in last six non-conference games