San Diego State is looking to bounce back after losing to BYU 74-65 in a game that was closer than the final score indicates. They will play the Long Beach State 49ers on Tuesday night in a game that KenPom expects the Aztecs to win by 13 points.
Long Beach State is coming off a victory against DePaul. The 49ers started strong and got out to a 33-11 lead with 6:11 left in the first half. DePaul mounted a comeback, but it wasn’t enough, and the 49ers won 77-73.
Long Beach State comes into this game ranked 123rd in KenPom. They play very fast, similar to BYU. Last season, they averaged the third most possessions per game in the nation, and this season, they rank 41st through two games. They are also one of the most experienced teams in the nation, both in terms of years played and years within the same system.
KenPom ranks them as having the 47th most experienced roster and the 13th most continuity from last season. One advantage the Aztecs should have is size. The 49ers only have two players that are 6’10”, and the next tallest player is 6’6”. The 6’10” players haven’t shared the floor for a single minute this season. The Aztecs have six players that have received minutes that are 6’7” or taller.
Guarding Long Beach State
The 49ers like to run in transition, but they aren’t very good at it. They turn the ball over a lot and settle for threes that they’ve so far largely missed. They run even after makes, which means that putting the ball in the basket won’t slow them down the way it did against BYU. The Aztecs will need to communicate clearly to ensure someone picks up the ball handler in transition. They’ll also need to avoid the sloppy turnovers they had against BYU and the first half against Fullerton.
Lassina Traore is the 49er’s primary option in the paint. He had a poor scoring game against Portland but scored 17 against DePaul. The Aztecs should try and see if their bigs can guard him one-on-one to start, but need to be ready to change strategies and bring double teams if he starts scoring.
Double-teaming the post always comes with the risk of giving up open shots somewhere else. Jadon Jones and Marcus Tsohonis are the primary outlets in that situation.
With Tsohonis being the primary scorer on the team, expect Lamont Butler to guard him as much as possible. Even if Darrion Trammell moves back into the starting lineup, he will likely guard the taller Isa Silva from the outset. Tsohonis is great at drawing fouls. Butler hasn’t committed many this season, but things can turn quickly if Butler gets called for a couple of quick ones.
Securing defensive rebounds will be highly important in this game. Long Beach State is good at getting second chances, and the Aztecs haven’t been themselves in that regard so far. Without tape, it’s hard to be more specific on how to guard the 49ers, but the Aztecs’ packline style should work well against them as long as the Aztecs can end possessions. Collapse the paint, force contested outside shots, and collect the rebounds. If the Aztecs can do that, they can slow down the 49ers.
Attacking Long Beach State
Long Beach State has very mobile bigs, and they aren’t afraid to switch ball screens. For this matchup, the Aztecs shouldn’t have to worry much about running a scheme to beat switches. With LBSU’s relative lack of size, if they switch, the Aztecs should get the ball to Jaedon LeDee with a high-low pass and let him attack a smaller defender.
Through two games, most of the Long Beach State team has struggled with fouls, so the Aztecs should focus on getting the ball to LeDee and letting him cook, as the odds of him either scoring or drawing a foul are high. When Amari Stroud specifically enters the game, LeDee should attack him. Through two games, he’s been very undisciplined with his fouls, averaging 26 fouls per 40 minutes played. Let LeDee attack, get the 49ers bigs into foul trouble, and get Stroud out of the game. It will make the 49ers play even smaller.
What the Aztecs should avoid is isolation. The 49ers aren’t the most skilled team, but they are athletic and mobile. They can guard most players in one-on-one situations.
Butler and LeDee are going to put a lot of pressure on the rim. It’s going to be that way all season. One of the keys to the Aztecs’ success over the course of the year will be 3-point shooting after the defense collapses. Long Beach State hasn’t had the best defense in the paint so far this season, but I expect them to sell out to stop easy baskets, which will open up 3-point shooters. Both Butler and LeDee will need to make the right reads and correctly decide when to score and when to pass.
Marcus Tsohonis, #0 – 19.5 Points, 2.5 Rebounds, 1.5 Assists
The primary scorer for the 49ers, he can score from most anywhere on the floor. He’s not much of a passer, so the Aztecs can collapse on him without too much fear. Expect Butler to pick up this assignment.
Aboubacar Traore, #25 – 14 Points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists
Aboubacar is the player who runs the show. He is a skilled and versatile wing, capable of both scoring as well as making others better. He is also a great rebounder despite only being 6’5”. Whoever guards him will need to keep him off of the offensive glass.
Lassina Traore, #23 – 10 points, 9.5 rebounds, 0 assists.
Lassina is the primary big man for the 49ers. He is athletic enough to switch onto opposing guards and cause trouble, but he has yet to record a steal or block this season. If he has a big game, it could spell trouble for SDSU.
Controlling the glass will be crucial. The 49ers are good rebounders at both ends of the floor and can earn themselves extra chances through their effort. The Aztecs will need to improve their rebounding, especially defensively, in order to come out on top.
Native San Diegan living in Montana. Big time Aztec Basketball fan. Creator of Aztec Breakdown. Hoping to help people enjoy basketball more by increasing their understanding of it.