Dan Monson, who last week became just the seventh head coach in history to compile his 100th Big West victory, takes his Long Beach State club on a short trip up the 405 for a pivotal matchup at CSUN. Both clubs are chasing UC Davis and UC Irvine in the standings.
UC Davis Wrests Away First Place
UC Davis is the newest inhabitant of first place in the Big West. The Aggies took over the top spot from UC Irvine after dealing the Anteaters a nine-point loss, improving their undefeated mark in the Pavilion to 6-0 this season. UC Davis is 5-1 (.833) in Big West play, while UCI fell to 6-2 (.750). The Anteaters also lost earlier in the week to Cal Poly, which earned its first conference win. Having played the fewest games (6) of anyone in the league, the Aggies hit the road to face Central Coast foes Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara this week with an opportunity to strengthen their toehold on the top perch.
A Ways To Go
The 5-1 record represents the second-best start in Aggie Division I history. The 2014-15 regular season champion UC Davis club reached 12-1 before sustaining its second loss. The Aggies are a season-high five games above .500 at 13-8 overall.
CSUN’s Road Mastery
CSUN picked up wins at UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside last week to improve to 4-1 in road conference games. The Matadors also tallied road victories at Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State. CSUN is now positioned to become a mover and shaker in the league standings with four consecutive home games upcoming – Long Beach State, Hawai‘i, UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. CSUN is 1-2 at the Matadome during conference play and seeks to reestablish home court advantage.
Road Win Barometer
The Big West has had a 16-game conference schedule since the 2007-08 season – the lone exception 2012-13 as a 10-team configuration (Hawaii’s first season and Pacific’s last as Big West members) – and past regular season champions typically require a minimum number of road wins. The majority of the time that number has been six. Two exceptions to the rule – the 2008-09 CSUN champs went 5-3, while 2009-10 co-champion UC Santa Barbara was 4-4 (that same team went 8-0 at home). In this year’s race, CSUN is already at four road wins. UCI is 3-1.
Regular season champs and corresponding Big West road records are as follows: 2015-16 (Hawai“i & UC Irvine, 7-1); 2014-15 (UC Davis, 6-2); 2013-14 (UCI, 6-2); 2011-12 (Long Beach State, 7-1); 2010-11 (LBSU, 6-2); 2009-10 (UC Santa Barbara, 4-4 & Pacific, 6-2); 2008-09 (CSUN, 5-3); and 2007-08 (Cal State Fullerton & CSUN, 6-2 & UCSB, 7-1)
Point Club Watch
CSUN senior Aaron Parks is the next player to approach the milestone. He’s sitting at 990 points, 10 away from joining 18 other Matadors on the exclusive list.
Fifteen of 32 league games have been decided by six points or less. Road teams are 14-18 overall.
Big West Rise Up Tour Continues At CSUN
The Big West Tour sponsored by Fox PrimeTicket and Coors Light returns for 2017, running January 12th through March 2nd. Over the course of the Tour, Big West representatives will make stops at the eight Big West campuses in California, giving fans opportunities to win prizes from the Big West spin wheel. The next stop is at CSUN from Feb. 1-2. The Big West Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament returns to Honda Center for the 2017 season, the event's 8th year at the Anaheim-based arena. The tournament runs March 9-11, with the women's first and second rounds March 7-8 at Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid and the women's semifinals and finals at Honda Center March 10-11. The entire men's tournament will be played at Honda Center March 9-11.
PRIOR TO TIPOFF
FEB. 1 – LONG BEACH STATE AT CSUN (ESPN3) - Long Beach State has won two straight and six of the last seven meetings in Northridge. However, the Matadors are seeking their first season sweep since the 2007-08 season. CSUN earned an 89-82 victory in Long Beach on Jan. 11, thanks to Kendall Smith’s 26 points and 20 from Darin Johnson. The Matadors held consecutive opponents under 60 points for the first time all season in last week’s wins at UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside. They stymied both clubs, limiting them to a combined 35.2% (45-of-128) shooting. LBSU junior Roschon Prince has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in five straight games. He had a career-high 14 caroms against Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 26. PXP: Trent Rush • COLOR: Richie Schueler
FEB. 2 – CAL STATE FULLERTON AT UC SANTA BARBARA (BIGWEST.TV) - UC Santa Barbara has won seven straight contests against Cal State Fullerton at the Thunderdome. The Titans last won there on Jan. 12, 2009 by a score of 62-58. CSF shot a season-best 89.7% (26-of-29) at the free throw line to complete the season sweep of Cal Poly last Saturday. Freshman Jackson Rowe tallied a career-high 24 points in the win. Gaucho senior Eric Childress has had two or more steals in seven straight games, and he’s averaging 3.0 steals per contest during that span.
FEB. 2 – UC DAVIS AT CAL POLY (BIGWEST.TV) - Red hot UC Davis has won seven of its last eight games, and now takes to the road this week to play the two squads tied for last in the Big West standings – Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara. The Aggies have shot 83 free throws over the last two games, including a Big West single-game high 46 attempts against UC Irvine on Saturday. Cal Poly’s Victor Joseph had back-to-back 22-point performances last week.
FEB. 2 – HAWAI‘I AT UC RIVERSIDE (ESPN3) - UC Riverside goes for its first-ever season sweep of Hawai‘i. Freshman Dikymbe Martin is averaging 14.0 points over the last three games, and had 17 against the ‘Bows in UCR’s 70-64 win last week. Noah Allen had a career-high 34 points to help UH defeat UCSB in his last outing. He has 25 points or more in four of the last five contests. PXP: Trent Rush • COLOR: Richie Schueler
BIG WEST BY THE NUMBERS
10 - Points needed to reach 1,000 for CSUN senior Aaron Parks.
35 - Number of made free throws by UC Davis versus UC Irvine, most in Big West this season.
15 - Conference games decided by 6 points or less, out of 32 played so far.
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.
Williams, Monson Among Winningest Coaches In Big West History
UC Santa Barbara’s Bob Williams and Long Beach State’s Dan Monson are the two current longest-tenured and winningest head coaches in Big West history. Williams became only the third coach in conference history to reach the 300-win mark when the Gauchos won at UC Riverside on Feb. 18, 2016. He joined Bob Thomason (436 at Pacific) and Jerry Tarkanian (405 at Long Beach State and UNLV) in the exclusive club. Williams, in his 19th season at the helm of the Gauchos, is also third with 182 wins in Big West play. In his 10th season, Dan Monson has compiled 164 wins at Long Beach State, putting him in 10th place all-time in the Big West. On the conference wins list, Monson is 100-53 all-time, just the seventh coach in league history to get to the century mark.
A Tough Road
The numbers don’t lie. Big West schools played an extremely difficult non-league schedule, primarily due to the sheer number of non-home games. Of the 108 non-conference games against Division I opponents spread out among the nine Big West members, 74 of those were played on neutral or away courts. That equates to 68.5 percent of the total non-conference Division I games. The Big West posted a respectable 21-13 record in home Division I non-conference games.
Monson Reaches Milestone
Long Beach State 10th-year head coach Dan Monson earned his 100th career Big West victory when the Beach toppled Cal State Fullerton on Thursday. He became just the seventh coach in league history to accomplish the feat. Monson now sports a 100-53 mark in Big West games. In terms of overall victories at LBSU, Monson has 164 of those, putting him 10th all-time in Big West history. He is positioned to overtake both Bobby Braswell of CSUN (166) and Utah State’s Stew Morrill (167) in the near future.
ALL-TIME BIG WEST VICTORY LEADERS