Long Beach State 49ers

Duke’s Grayson Allen, center, handles the ball as Long Beach State’s Nick Faust, left, and Long Beach State’s Noah Blackwell (3) defend during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C. Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015. Duke won 103-81. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
Associated Press

Allen scores career-best 33, No. 15 Duke beats 49ers 103-81

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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Grayson Allen finally found some open lanes to the basket, and he burst through them. All those drives added up to the highest-scoring game of his career.

Allen scored 24 of his 33 points in the second half to lead No. 15 Duke past Long Beach State 103-81 on Wednesday.

“I just started to see it as the game was going by, and coach wanted us to be more active on offense when we were attacking the zone,” Allen said. “I just saw lanes to drive out there, and as the game went on, I was able to see them quicker and more often.”

Matt Jones added 21 points, Derryck Thornton had 18 and Brandon Ingram finished with 14 in the final nonconference game for the Blue Devils (11-2).

They overcame some poor early shooting from 3-point range by shooting 65.6 percent in the second half, hitting 28 of 32 free throws and pulling away with a 25-6 run that bridged the halves.

A.J. Spencer scored 20 points and Noah Blackwell had career highs of 19 points and four 3-pointers for the 49ers (6-9).

Their zone defense helped them lead for almost 15 minutes in the first half, and they finished with a 42-31 rebounding advantage. But the 49ers had 18 turnovers that Duke turned into 24 points.

“We could not control them on the offensive end,” 49ers coach Dan Monson said. “It’s embarrassing to give up 100 points to anybody.”

Allen was 8 of 15 from the field and kept drawing contact and getting to the foul line, hitting 15 of 17 from there while surpassing his previous career-best of 32 points set against Georgetown last month in New York.

“I still think Grayson could play better. But he obviously was a godsend today, or else we had a chance to lose the game,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He has the ability to draw fouls in addition to shooting and scoring. You have a greater chance of putting up a lot of points if you get to the free-throw line.”

He helped Duke flip a six-point deficit into a double-figure lead with the big run that started late in the first half and ended in the second.

The Blue Devils hit 11 of 12 free throws during a 2 1/2-minute stretch early in the burst before Allen dunked on Spencer and Thornton capped the run with a contested jumper that made it 51-38 with 17 1/2 minutes to play.

PLAY OF THE DAY

The Cameron Crazies chanted Marshall Plumlee’s name after he came up huge at both ends of the floor in the span of a few seconds. His authoritative behind-the-head dunk gave Duke its largest lead to that point – 70-55 – with about 11 1/2 minutes left, and then he swatted Roschon Prince’s shot to bring the fans to their feet.

STAT WATCH

After scoring 70 points in the first half against Elon, Duke put up 61 in the second half against Long Beach State. “We have good scorers, and if we’re ready and play off one another, we have the ability to put points up,” Krzyzewski said.

TIP-INS

Long Beach State: Maryland transfer Nick Faust finished with 10 points in his first game at Cameron Indoor Stadium since February 2014, when Duke beat the Terrapins 69-67 on a missed hook shot at the buzzer by Maryland. In three visits with the Terps – all losses – Faust averaged 10.3 points.

Duke: The Blue Devils, who shoot 39 percent from 3-point range, made just three of their first 12 attempts from long range in the first half before hitting 8 of 15 in the second. … Duke is 11-0 when scoring at least 79 points and 0-2 when scoring 75 or fewer.

UP NEXT

Long Beach State: Plays at California State-Northridge on Jan. 6.

Duke: Plays at Boston College on Saturday.

Follow Joedy McCreary at http://twitter.com/joedyap. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/joedy-mccreary

AP college basketball site: http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Big West Preview: UC Irvine looks to make national splash

Mamadou Ndiaye
Associated Press
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Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Big West.

Picked to win the Big West in the preseason, Russell Turner’s UC Irvine Anteaters managed to win the league’s conference tournament and throw a scare into Louisville before falling in the NCAA tournament. And with three starters back from that team, guards Alex Young and Luke Nelson and center Mamadou Ndiaye, the expectation entering the 2015-16 campaign is that UCI will once again be the preseason favorite to win the Big West.

The Anteaters got the job done defensively, limiting opponents to 39.4 percent shooting from the field and blocking nearly five shots per contest with the 7-foot-6 Ndiaye (who’s also more skilled offensively than he’s given credit for) being their most imposing deterrent in the paint. That will once again be the case, even with the one starter they’ll have to replace being a forward in Will Davis II who was one of the conference’s best defensive players.

In total UCI returns ten players with game experience, and the combination of that and a non-conference schedule that includes games against Boise State (as part of the Wooden Legacy), Saint Mary’s, Utah State, Oregon, and Kansas should have the Anteaters prepared to make a run at the Big West crown.

Who’s the biggest threat to UC Irvine? One option is UCSB, even with the graduation of Alan Williams. Head coach Bob Williams welcomes back three of last season’s top four scorers led by senior guard Michael Bryson. The Gauchos will need junior Eric Childress to take a step forward at the point, and in sophomore guard Gabe Vincent they have a player who can be an All-Big West selection in the very near future. UCSB’s greatest question mark lies in the post, where it would be unfair to expect one player to “replace” Alan Williams. But if they can get a collective effort on the boards, UCSB can threaten for the Big West’s top spot.

There’s also a Long Beach State team that’s chock full talented transfers eager to hit the ground running. Dan Monson will have options such as Nick Faust (Maryland), Roschon Prince (USC) and Gabe Levin (Loyola Marymount) at his disposal, which will help with the loss of all five starters from last season. The most important of those departed starters was point guard Mike Caffey, a three-time first team All-Big West selection. Who steps forward in that leadership role, with junior Branford Jones and senior A.J. Spencer being two possible options with Spencer having missed last season due to injury, will determine just how good the 49ers can be.

Hawai’i, which reached the Big West title game in March, returns most of last season’s rotation and under first-year head coach Eran Ganot can hit the ground running as they look to start a new era. The focus may be on the top half of the Big West but as UC Davis, which won the regular season title despite being picked seventh in the preseason poll, proved last season a contender can come from a seemingly unlikely position. With that in mind keep an eye on Cal Poly, which returns its top five scorers from last season led by senior forward Brian Bennett.

While UC Irvine enters the season as the clear favorite to win the Big West, they won’t lack for challenges along the way. And as the Anteaters would tell you themselves, while a regular season title is great their season (along with the rest of the Big West’s) boils down to three days in Anaheim in March.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

COACH’S TAKE

  • Favorite: UC Irvine. “They’re the champions until someone says otherwise. They won the regular season two years ago with this group of guys, they won the (Big West) tournament last year with this group, and it’s their league until somebody dethrones them. It’s going to be a tall task because they’re a veteran group that has a lot of balance between their inside and outside. They’re well-coached, and they don’t really have a lot of weaknesses.”
  • Sleeper: “The two (teams) I would look at are UC Riverside and Cal-State Fullerton. Riverside was very competitive last year and finished in the middle of the pack, which was a very good place for them, and they have virtually everybody back. And Fullerton had a couple kids sitting out that are very good players, one being Tre’ Coggins who’s a prolific scorer and that’s something they really could have used last year. I think those two teams are on the rise.”
  • Star to watch: “I think Mamadou Ndiaye right now is the one who stands out. People love to talk about how tall he is and how big he is, but they fail to mention how good he is and how he impacts the game. We tried to just go at him one game last year and he had like 11 blocks. That’s like 11 turnovers, and that’s very impactful on the game.”

PRESEASON BIG WEST PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Michael Bryson, UCSB

Bryson’s become a more consistent player throughout his time at UCSB, and last season he managed to earn first team All-Big West honors. Bryson averaged 13.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 36.0 percent from three. And with Alan Williams moving on, he’ll be asked to produce even more offensively.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-BIG WEST TEAM:

  • Mamadou Ndiaye, UC Irvine: Ndiaye averaged 10.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game in 15 games last season.
  • Taylor Johns, UC Riverside: A first team All-Big West selection last season, Johns averaged 16.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest.
  • Roderick Bobbitt, Hawai’i: Bobbitt, who averaged 8.9 points and 5.3 assists per game, was a handful defensively for the Rainbow Warriors last season (2.9 spg).
  • Luke Nelson, UC Irvine: The Big West’s best freshman in 2013-14, Nelson averaged 14.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @BigWestMBB

PREDICTED FINISH

1. UC Irvine
2. UCSB
3. Long Beach State
4. Hawai’i
5. Cal Poly
6. UC Riverside
7. Cal-State Fullerton
8. UC Davis
9. CSUN

Long Beach State to honor Jerry Tarkanian with towel, patch

Dan Monson
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source:
Dan Monson

Long Beach State announced on Thursday that they will be honoring the late-Jerry Tarkanian with a patch on their jersey that will be worn beginning on February 19th.

source:
Dan Monson

The 49ers will also be giving away commemorative towels at that Feb. 19th game, with the first 1,000 fans receiving one.

Tarkanian passed away this week at a hospital in Vegas. While he made his name coaching the Runnin’ Rebels of the late 80s and early 90s, Tark began his career coaching at LBSU.

The towels aren’t meant to honor Tark’s trademark. He would always have a towel in hand — or in his mouth — during games and while on the bench.

Tark’s career record at LBSU was 122-20. He coached there from 1968-73 and led the program to four straight NCAA tournaments.