After winning its season opener against Hawaii Pacific, Long Beach State lost nine straight games in a variety of ways. There were blowouts, and there were also close defeats like their one-point loss to Loyola Marymount on November 14. Dan Monson’s team has traditionally played a brutal non-conference schedule, with the goal being to enter Big West play tested and ready to make a run at the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
But that can be a tough road to travel when doing so with a roster loaded with newcomers, and that’s been the case for the 49ers. The process of building chemistry is an ongoing one, and it certainly hasn’t come easy for Long Beach State. On Thursday night the 49ers welcomed UCLA transfer Tyler Lamb to the rotation, and the once highly-regarded Mater Dei product was expected to provide Long Beach State with some needed perimeter scoring help alongside junior point guard Mike Caffey.
And in his debut Lamb gave the 49ers a much-needed boost in the first half, scoring 18 of his 20 points to help Long Beach State build a 50-36 lead at the break. Long Beach State went cold in the second half as USC came back to take the lead, but a Mike Caffey driving layup with just over 16 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in Long Beach State’s 72-71 victory. Caffey scored a game-high 22 points to go along with four assists and big man Dan Jennings added ten points and eight assists as the 49ers snapped their nine-game skid.
In two-plus seasons at UCLA Lamb averaged 5.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, and his open-court style didn’t exactly mesh with what then-head coach Ben Howland wanted to do. As a result he made the decision to transfer to Long Beach State, and after sitting out for more than a year (he played just one game at UCLA last season) Lamb hit the ground running offensively. Against USC he also accounted for four rebounds, three steals and two assists, using his skill and athletic ability to impact the game in multiple areas.
Given how much Long Beach State struggled in the nine Division I games prior to Thursday, it wouldn’t be wise to state that Lamb’s arrival means that everything’s “fixed.” Against USC the 49ers went more than six minutes in the second half without scoring a point, watching their lead dwindle from 13 points down to two with 6:28 to go, and they shot 5-for-21 from three. So there’s still plenty of room for growth as Lamb and the five junior college transfers (they’ve been eligible since the start of the season) continue to mesh with Caffey and the other key returnees.
But there’s no doubt that Lamb will be an impact player for Long Beach State as they look to win another Big West regular season title, especially when considering how he played in his debut.
Here is the full TV schedule, with spreads, over-unders and betting lines, for every game for final day of the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
Odds via VegasInsider.com
- 7:07 p.m.: No. 11 Loyola-Chicago vs. No. 7 Nevada (-2.5), CBS (143.5)
- 9:37 p.m.: No. 9 Kansas State vs. No. 5 Kentucky (-5.5), CBS (138.5)
- 7:37 p.m.: No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 3 Michigan (-3), TBS (134)
- 10:07 p.m.: No. 9 Florida State vs. No. 4 Gonzaga (-5.5), TBS (154.5)
- 7:07 p.m.: No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 1 Kansas (-4), CBS (143)
- 9:37: No. 11 Syracuse vs. No. 2 Duke (-11.5), CBS (133.5)
- 7:27 p.m.: No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 1 Villanova, TBS
- 9:57 p.m.: No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 2 Purdue (-1.5), TBS (137.5)
The wild opening weekend of the 2018 NCAA tournament is finally in the books.
The bracket officially turns its attention to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight this week as teams are trying to punch tickets to San Antonio during an especially wide-open year.
Major upsets, double-digit seeds advancing into the Sweet 16 and the loss of all four top seeds in the South Regional means there’s still plenty of action to watch over the next several weeks.
Here’s how the updated bracket looks after the first weekend of March Madness.
PLAYER OF THE DAY
Caleb Martin was, once again, a monster for Nevada on Sunday.
He finished with 25 points. He handed out seven assists. He put the No. 7-seed Wolf Pack on his back and carried them back from a 22-point deficit in the final 12 minutes of a game that looked like it was lost.
It was impressive.
But he’s not our player of the day. His teammate Josh Hall is. Because he’s the one that grabbed this offensive rebound and scored this put back and sent Nevada into the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
That lead was Nevada’s first lead of the game.
THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
- JEVON CARTER, West Virginia: 28 points. Five steals. Five assists. Four boards. Eight turnovers for Marshall’s Jon Elmore. Jevon Carter was terrific this weekend.
- T.J. STARKS, Texas A&M: While Tyler Davis and Big Bob Williams combined for 26 points and 22 boards, it was Starks that was the star for the Aggies on Sunday, finishing with 21 points and five assists in a blowout win over UNC.
No. 9-seed Florida State erased a 12-point deficit in the final 10 minutes to send No. 1-seed Xavier back to the Queen City. Both Xavier and Cincinnati blew late leads on Sunday.
It was not a pretty game, but No. 11-seed Syracuse knocked off No. 3-seed Michigan State in a game where the Spartans completely forgot how to make a jump shot.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Playing without their starting center, who is recovering from a broken elbow, Purdue’s Dakota Mathias buried this shot to send in-state rival Butler home:
WTF??? OF THE DAY
Michigan State shot 8-for-38 from three on Sunday afternoon, which was the major reason that the Spartans found a way to lose to Syracuse in the second round.
But one of the eight threes that they did hit was this one:
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?
Auburn never stood a chance. No. 5-seed Clemson led by 41 points at one points as they sent Bruce Pearl’s boys packing.
The dream died. No. 16 UMBC lost to No. 9 Kansas State, ending their “run” in the NCAA tournament at two games.
North Carolina head coach Roy Williams took a moment to reflect on a special three-year run after the Tar Heels were eliminated from the 2018 NCAA Tournament with a blowout loss to No. 7 seed Texas A&M on Sunday.
After back-to-back national title game appearances and a championship win last season, Williams grew quite fond of seniors like Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson. Williams also mentioned some of the tumultuous circumstances surrounding the program from the past few years as he maintained that his players helped him through a difficult stretch in his life.
Speaking to reporters at the postgame press conference, Williams tried to subdue the emotion in his voice as he talked about this Tar Heels team.
With four more top threes falling out of the NCAA tournament on Sunday, here are the updated national title futures and betting odds in the NCAA tournament.
Odds via VegasInsider.com
West Virginia: 22/1
Texas Tech: 25/1
Texas A&M: 100/1
Loyola Chicago: 100/1
Kansas State: 125/1
Florida State: 150/1