Live updates from court side at the Pyramid
Ahh huh you know what it is BracketBuster - sorry that Black and Yellow song was blaring through the Pyramid as the student doors opened and I couldn't resist.
But there is some truth to the statement. It is BracketBuster time. As a couple of LBSU opponents from earlier in the year battle on ESPN right now (Utah State at St. Mary's) ESPN2 gets ready to cap off their Mid-Major-a-thon with tonight's game of the Montana Griz vs. your Long Beach State 49ers.
Montana currently leads the Big Sky Conference with a record of 19-7 and boasts wins over UCLA and Oregon State on their resume. We know the story with Long Beach State, currently in first place in the Big West, currently on a five game winning streak and haven't lost in the Pyramid since 2010.
Keys to the game
Contain their bigs. It doesn't take too much analysis to see one of the biggest keys for the Niners will be to contain Montana's two bigs. The Griz run two big men Derek Selvig at 7 foot and Brian Qvale at 6'11. Selvig, though an inch taller, prefers to play the perimeter and is actually the second leading three point shooter on the team. Qvale is more of a traditional banger. Their size leads to a lot of blocked shots, so LBSU will have to be aware of shot changers in the lane as well as the outside shot.
Control the tempo. Long Beach State wants to run. Montana doesn't. Simple as that. The 49ers are starting to amass some impressive offensive team statistics, and while offensively the Griz don't stand out, their defense is outstanding. Thus, the team that can dictate the tempo will be able to get their opposition out of their comfort zone. Coach Monson compared Montana to Pacific, a well coaches and methodical team. And we all know how the games against Pacific have gone this year, right down to the wire.
Protect home court. LBSU has a golden opportunity tonight to not only improve their RPI, but to show a National TV audience a high brand of Mid-Major basketball. The students are already packing the student section, and if the rain doesn't drive people away, a decent crowd should be in the works tonight. The Long Beach State players always feed off the crowd, and if they can keep the fans in it early, home court advantage can really take over.
20 minutes til tip
Students are really filing in, student section has been starting to get sardine like for about an hour. Montana has a good amount of fans on hand, but considering they live in Montana, this is quite the vacation for them.
Superfan is in the building, it's not a question of if, but when, as far as his patented dance (sans t-shirt) will go down.
Some creative signs in the crowd so far, even the court kids got a shout out from the Maniacs. I'll try and keep track of some of the better ESPN acronym signs that the students have brought.
LBSU: No changes for the home team Ware, Plater, Anderson, Robinson, Phelps
Montana: Cherry, Stockton, Steward, Selvig, Qvale
17:01 left in first half LBSU 10 - Mont. 2
Defense by Long Beach is really active in the first couple of possessions collapsing on the Griz big men.
The intensity is certainly back in the Pyramid ladies and gents. Some beautiful passing inside and out leads to a three by Cas and active hands leads to a run out by Larry Anderson and the foul. Griz want timeout.
14:46 left in first half LBSU 14 - Mont. 4
Casper will shoot a free throw after the meida after he went coast to coast for a nice layup.
11:55 left in first half LBSU 19 - Mont. 8
Long Beach showing a press that Montana has had mixed results breaking. It once led to a turnover. Other times the Griz have got settled in their offense. Which is methodical as advertised.
Plater hits a catch and shoot three of an in bounds play.
Casper really is a blur when flying down the court, the defense just can't get settled and they end up sending Phelps to the line where he splits his free throws.
A male cheer leader almost did a backflip in to the team, Starkey had a good boxout.
5:31 left in first half LBSU 25 - Mont. 17
Some close fouls going against LBSU sending Montana to the line. Another one comes as Phelps bumps Steward after making a three. He completes the rare four point play.
Ware picks up his second foul going for a defensive board and has to head to the bench.
Both teams look a little gassed. Media timeout after a foul on Edis. Five on the floor right now Plater, Anderson, Nevens, T.J., Edis
In crowd watching news, Superfan has removed his shirt. Everyone remain calm.
3:59 left in first half LBSU 27 - Mont. 18
That's got to be about the fourth airball for Montana, this time Cherry had to force a shot up as the shot clock expired. Media time outs were pretty close together.
Superfan has his shirt back on.
12.8 left in first half LBSU 36 - Mont. 24
Cherry just airballed again on a floater but it landed right in the lap of Ward of Montana who gets to the free throw line for two points.
Despite the Griz bigs, Long Beach has been active around the rim, this time T.J. gets a nice tip-in.
T.J. picks up Edis after two missed free throws, getting an offensive board and bucket.
Nevens makes his presence felt coming out of no where for an offensive rebound and easy basket and then takes a charge on the defensive end. Long Beach ball with 12.8 seconds to go.
Half time LBSU 36 - Mont. 24
No one for the Niners could find open space and T.J. has to jack a desperation three that rims out. Nice half for The Beach. They picked their spots to run, and weathered the storm with Cas on the bench.
The Montana bigs have had a few open shots, but LBSU doing well to double the post players when they have the ball in deep, but also aren't allowing anyone to torch the nets from outside. Good defensive awareness and switching.
Crowd is in to it. They're even cheering the youth basketball halftime game.
14:33 left in second half LBSU 47 - Mont. 37
A couple of bobbled balls lead to turnovers and layups for Montana.
Casper has a had enough so he decides to drive to the rim twice and gets two lay ins.
Montana having more success on the offensive end this half, but Long Beach is matching their buckets.
First time a Long Beach shot has noticeably been changed for fear of being blocked, as T.J. had to put an awful lot of height on a floater, and he couldn't convert.
11:45 left in second half LBSU 50 - Mont. 38
Long Beach can't seem to do anything on either end without being called for a foul, Phelps has to head to the bench with his third foul.
Larry hits a three from the top of the arc pushing the lead back to twelve.
Tight D by LBSU leads to another Griz shot clock violation.
3,368 in attendance tonight.
8:28 left in second half LBSU 52 - Mont. 42
Edis in a battle with Griz big man Qvale, and though the Montana player has 13 points, Edis doing well to limit his touches.
After another close call goes against Long Beach, this time a blocking call against Casper, Montana calls timeout. Ten point game.
5:36 left in second half LBSU 60 - Mont. 46
Long Beach's press forces a Cherry turnover and leads Larry to the line for two.
Phelps hits a jumper at the elbow and Coach Tinkle for Montana has seen enough. Timeout Griz.
3:56 left in second half LBSU 64 - Mont. 48
Phelps is having him self a game, he cleans up a miss for two more points. He leads The Beach with 17. And now 19 after he spins in the lane for a point blank shot.
T.J. fouled on his way to the hoop, he'll shoot after the four minute media timeout.
1:25 left in second half LBSU 68 - Mont. 50
Larry Anderson cuts to the tin makes the runner and the foul. Long Beach leads by 20.
Might be my favorite part of the game: Starkey time.
Sean is joined by Chang, Jackson, Vantimpont, and King.
LBSU 74 - Mont. 56