Prior to getting down to the business of fall exams, UC Irvine faces a couple of formidable road tests on the hardwood in No. 20 Arizona and No. 11 Saint Mary's this week in men's hoops.
‘Eaters Face Two Ranked Foes
UC Irvine, in a stretch of playing 10 out of 11 games on the road, travels to a pair of ranked opponents this week. The Anteaters battle No. 20 Arizona on Tuesday and visit No. 11 Saint Mary’s on Sunday. It’s the second and third games against top-25 opponents for the Anteaters, which nearly upset then-No. 25 California earlier this season. UCI’s lone home tilt in that 11-game stretch is Friday against Pomona-Pitzer.
Cal Poly Holds Home Court
Cal Poly improved to 4-0 at home after winning a pair of 12-point games against UTSA and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Mustangs have claimed 13 of their last 14 non-conference home games dating back to the 2013-14 season. Unfortunately, Cal Poly’s next home game at the Mott Athletics Center will not be until Jan. 12 against Cal State Fullerton, a hiatus of 40 days. The Mustangs embark on a six-game road trip, beginning on Saturday versus Fresno State and continuing against California, Washington, Grand Canyon, Princeton and UC Davis.
Close Ones At The Matadome
CSUN improved to 3-0 at the Matadome as Tavrion Dawson’s three-pointer at the buzzer gave his team a 79-76 victory over Idaho State. The Matadors also knocked off Northern Illinois, 84-82, at home earlier this year.
In The Clutch
The Big West is 7-4 in games decided by five points or less. Cal Poly (1-0), Cal State Fullerton (1-0), CSUN (2-0), Long Beach State (0-1), UC Davis (1-1), UC Irvine (1-0) and Hawai‘i (1-2) all have been involved in close contests so far this season.
Home Vs. Away
The benefits of playing at home and the difficulty of winning on the road have been spelled out starkly through the first month of the 2016-17 campaign. Big West teams are a solid 20-7 at home, but have struggled to a 4-24 record in true road games. On neutral courts, the conference is 3-13.
UCI leads the Big West in scoring defense at 62.9 points per game. The Anteaters have held four of their eight opponents under 60 points. In addition, they rank seventh nationally in field goal percentage defense (.355).
Rainbow Warriors Play In Pearl Harbor Invite
For the 75th commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawai‘i will play in the FS1 Pearl Harbor Invitational, Dec. 6-7, in historic Bloch Arena at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The Rainbow Warriors will play the backend of a doubleheader each day, facing Seton Hall on Dec. 6, before playing Princeton on the actual anniversary date of Wednesday, Dec. 7. Both games will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1. UH is 4-3 on the year, and has had a week of rest after opening the season with seven games in a 17-day period.
BIG WEST BY THE NUMBERS
13 - Number of wins in the last 14 non-conference home games for Cal Poly.
4 - Big West schools that participated in the 2015-16 postseason.
11.0 - PPG for UC Riverside’s Dikymbe Martin, most by a Big West freshman.
Lou Henson Award Watch List
Juniors Justin Bibbins of Long Beach State and Gabe Vincent of UC Santa Barbara represent the Big West on the 50-player Lou Henson Award Preseason Watch List, as announced by online publication CollegeInsider.com. The two guards are up for the award presented annually to the nation’s top mid-major player. Bibbins, a second team all-conference pick last year, registered 164 assists for the third-highest single-season total in 49er history. Vincent, who earned All-Big West Honorable Mention praise, knocked down 80 three-pointers to rank No. 2 on the Gaucho single-season chart.
Long Beach State Earns Media Nod
With 203 points and 19 first-place votes, Long Beach State was the choice of the media to win the 2016-17 Big West men’s basketball regular season title. Head coach Dan Monson’s 49ers, which return three starters and eight letterwinners from last season’s 20-15 club, was cast in the favorite’s role for the first time since the 2012-13 season. In addition to returning Bibbins, LBSU also welcomes back junior forward Gabe Levin, an honorable mention all-conference selection who averaged 9.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Once again, LBSU faces one of the nation’s toughest non-conference schedules with road games against the likes of Wichita State, North Carolina, Louisville, UCLA, Washington, Kansas and Texas.
Graham Nominated For Allstate Good Works Team
UC Davis senior guard Darius Graham was nominated to the 2017 Allstate NABC Good Works Team, which represents the sport’s finest in the areas of community service and leadership among their peers, and recognizes players at all levels of college basketball whose charitable involvement and altruistic acts stand out amongst all other student-athletes participating in the sport. A total of 181 players were recognized from the NABC, and the final 10-member team will be announced in February and be honored during the 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four® in Phoenix, where they will participate in a community service project benefitting the city. Graham has been involved in the UC Davis Reading Program, which includes more than 23,000 elementary-aged children from 35 schools throughout Yolo and Sacramento counties. In addition, he helped organize food drives, toy drives and classroom visits during his junior season.
Several first-year Big West players are ranked among the conference leaders in scoring and rebounding. Noah Allen, a transfer from UCLA, ranks No. 3 in points per game (16.3) and No. 5 in rebounding (7.0). UC Davis redshirt junior Chima Moneke is the conference’s leading rebounder at 8.3 per game, while his 12.6 points per game average is No. 9.
Here is a list of Big West newcomers ranked in the top 15 in either scoring or rebounding throughout the league:
Scored in double figures first six games
Has two 21-point games – Holy Names and Oakland
Chaffey College transfer averaging 19.3 ppg over last three
Leading scorer for Highlanders at 12.2 per game
Three double-figure board games – 14 vs. Tennessee State
JC transfer had 10 caroms against USC
Two double-doubles on the year
UConn leads CSUN in boards at 5.7 per game
Has started all seven games for the Rainbow Warriors
Cal State Fullerton
Leads all Big West freshmen in rebounding (5.3 rpg)
Second Big West freshman ranked in top 15 in rebounding