Big West Men's Basketball Race Intensifies
Men's Basketball Release No. 14
Seven schools are separated by two games in the men's basketball race, a precursor of what's to come at March Madness and the Big West Tournament.
Big West Race Resembles Rush Hour Logjam
All teams have reached at minimum the midpoint of the Big West schedule, and next month’s tournament at Honda Center is going to be a wild affair if the current standings offer any insight. SEVEN schools have a legitimate shot of winning the regular season title. SIX schools are within two games of league-leading UC Davis, which at 6-2, is a half game ahead of UC Irvine and a full game in front of CSUN. Hawai‘i, Long Beach State and UC Riverside are right there in the mix at 5-4, and Cal State Fullerton is a factor too at 4-4. Every game has developed into a critical one heading into the second half of conference play.
UC Riverside With Pivotal Week Ahead
A couple of formidable tests confront UC Riverside this week, but they are opportunities to move up ever further in the Big West race. The Highlanders have not been above .500 in conference play this late in a season since Feb. 26, 2009, when the program improved to 7-6 with a win over Cal State Fullerton. UCR hosts Long Beach State on ESPN3 Thursday, then treks to first place UC Davis Saturday.
UC Davis With Unbeaten Home Streak On Line
UC Davis is the lone remaining undefeated Big West team at home. The Aggies are 6-0 on Hamilton Court in the Pavilion this year, and in addition to hosting UCR, welcome Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday. In going 3-0 at home against Big West opponents, the Aggies have held those victims to a 58.7 points per game average.
Preseason conference favorite Long Beach State is positioned to attack in the standings with wins in four of its last five games. The Beach has sandwiched two of their better defensive performances around arguably its worst over the last week and a half. LBSU held CSF to 65 points and 35.4% shooting in an 11-point win, and in Saturday’s 72-63 victory over UCI, held the Anteaters to 36.5% shooting – the 63 points the lowest of any LBSU opponent during Big West play. In between, the Matadors exploded for 108 points in a 10-point win over the Beach on Feb. 1.
Point Club Watch
CSUN senior Aaron Parks became the 19th Matador in history to reach the 1,000-point career threshold when he scored 12 against LBSU. He added five more points against Hawai‘i on Saturday and to up his total to 1,007.
Eighteen of 40 league games have been decided by six points or less. Road teams are 19-21 overall.
One More Note
With 14 victories, UC Davis is one win away from its second-highest total in the school’s Division I history. The record is 24 by the 2014-15 squad that went on to capture the Big West regular season title.
Big West Rise Up Tour Continues At UC Davis
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 UC Davis on Feb. 8. 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. 8 – CAL STATE FULLERTON AT UC DAVIS (BIGWEST.TV) - Cal State Fullerton looks for its third straight victory and a chance to go above .500 in Big West play. UC Davis has not lost at home this season in six tries. Titan senior Tre’ Coggins recorded his eighth 20-point game with 22 against UC Santa Barbara and tops the conference with 17.4 points per game. The Aggies corralled a season-high 16 offensive rebounds in their last outing against UCSB.
FEB. 8 – UC SANTA BARBARA AT UC IRVINE (ESPN3) - UC Santa Barbara has lost six straight and UC Irvine is on a three-game skid. In starting 5-0 in conference play, the Anteaters held all five opponents under 70 points. Since then, UCI is 1-3 and all four foes have tallied 73 points or more. Alex Hart produced his fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds in an upset bid over UC Davis last week. PXP: Trent Schlom • COLOR: Richie Schueler
FEB. 9 – LONG BEACH STATE AT UC RIVERSIDE (ESPN3) - Long Beach State seeks its second straight road win. Freshman Loren Jackson averaged 14.5 points in his first two conference starts last week for the Beach. LBSU’s free throw percentage of .754 in conference games ranks No. 2 among Big West squads. UC Riverside freshman Dikymbe Martin has scored in double figures five straight games and is shooting 62.0% (31-for-50) from the field over that stretch. PXP: Trent Schlom • COLOR: Richie Schueler
FEB. 9 – CAL POLY AT HAWAI‘I (BIGWEST.TV) - Cal Poly, which already boasts wins over conference contenders UC Davis and UC Irvine, looks to take down another team in the thick of the conference race. Hawai‘i earned its first two road wins last week over UC Riverside and CSUN. That pulled the Rainbow Warriors even at .500 for the season. UH has won three straight overall. Noah Allen has had three 30-point games in his last six, with 30 and 34 against CSUN and 34 against UCSB – all UH wins.
BIG WEST BY THE NUMBERS
3 - League-leading number of 30-point games by Hawaii’s Noah Allen
7 - Consecutive double-digit rebounding games by Long Beach State’s Roschon Prince
22 - Big West-high number of 20-point games by CSUN players – Darin Johnson (8), Kendall Smith (7), Tavrion Dawson (5), Aaron Parks (2)