UC Irvine makes the cross-county trek to Cal State Fullerton in a battle between conference leader and contender.
UC Irvine Returns To First Place
UC Irvine reclaimed sole possession of first place thanks to a victory over UC Riverside and two UC Davis losses last week. The Anteaters (9-3), winners of three straight, are positioned to win their second straight regular season crown and third in the last four seasons under head coach Russell Turner. UCI has a one-game lead on UC Davis (8-4), while Long Beach State (8-5), Cal State Fullerton (7-5) and CSUN (7-5) are all lurking within two games of the top spot.
Orange County Showdown
The Big West race could become extra intriguing following Wednesday’s night when UC Irvine visits Orange County rival Cal State Fullerton. The resurgent Titans, which have won five of their last six contests, are 10-3 at home this season. They need a win to pull within a game of the league-leading Anteaters. CSF’s last Big West regular season crown was in 2007-08, as tri-champions with CSUN and UC Santa Barbara. However, UCI has won 10 straight meetings against CSF, including a 20-point triumph on Jan. 14 in Irvine. The Anteaters have won four in a row inside Titan Gym, last losing there on Feb. 9, 2012.
ESPNU To Televise Aggie, Beach Clash
For the fifth straight season, UC Davis is hosting a nationally televised game from the Pavilion. Long Beach State is the opponent for Saturday’s 5 p.m. showdown on ESPN2. The game pits the second and third place teams in the Big West standings, very much in contention for the regular season title and a No. 1 seed in next month’s conference tournament. This is the third time the Aggies and Beach will have battled on ESPNU or ESPN2 at the Pavilion. Four of the five national appearances have attracted fans in excess of 5,000.
ESPN GAMES FROM THE PAVILION
Long Beach State
UC Santa Barbara
Long Beach State
Point Club Watch
The next member of the career 1,000-point club will be from UC Davis. Senior Brynton Lemar is currently at 995 points, needing five more to become the 22nd player in UC Davis history to hit the milestone.
Three Players Close In On Assist Milestone
A trio of seniors are honing in on 400 career assists as the regular season winds down. UC Davis guard Darius Graham has 397 assists, three away from reaching the milestone. UC Santa Barbara guard Eric Childress (394) and UC Irvine guard Luke Nelson (386) are also close.
Beach Protecting The ‘Mid
Long Beach State, entering its home game Wednesday against Cal Poly, is 49-6 in Big West games at the Walter Pyramid since the 2010-11 season, including 5-1 this year.
Big West Rise Up Tour Continues At Long Beach State
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 Long Beach State on Feb. 23 and 25. 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. 22 – UC IRVINE AT CAL STATE FULLERTON (ESPN3) - UC Irvine leads the Big West in scoring defense, allowing just 63.6 points per game en route to being in first place at 9-3. The Anteaters have been increasingly stingy during their current three-game win streak, as they have limited UC Santa Barbara, Hawai‘i and UC Riverside to an average of 55.0 points. UCI is 8-0 in league play when holding the opponent under 70 points. Cal State Fullerton has experienced an uptick in defense too. Through the first seven conference games, the Titans allowed 73.3 points per game for a 3-4 record. CSF is 4-1 over its last five games, allowing 64.6 points over that stretch. PXP: Trent Rush • COLOR: Bill Herenda
FEB. 23 – CAL POLY AT LONG BEACH STATE (ESPN3) - Cal Poly is the Big West’s designated “giant killer” as the team’s three conference wins came against teams in the top three of the standings at the time of the game – UC Davis, UC Irvine and CSUN. Now the Mustangs take aim at a Long Beach State squad which has won seven of its last nine contests. LBSU held UC Santa Barbara to an opponent season-low 48 points in its last outing. PXP: Trent Rush • COLOR: Richie Schueler • SIDELINE: Courtney Sweet
FEB. 23 – CSUN AT UC DAVIS (BIGWEST.TV) - UC Davis looks to avoid a three-game losing streak after going 0-2 on last week’s roadtrip. The Aggies are 8-0 at home this season and hopes to utilize that advantage to navigate their last three games at the Pavilon, all against teams above .500 in the Big West standings. CSUN is the Big West’s best road team at 4-1 as it embarks on a three-game roadtrip.
FEB. 23 – UC RIVERSIDE AT UC SANTA BARBARA (BIGWEST.TV) - UC Santa Barbara honors lone senior Eric Childress at its final home game of the season. In the school record book, Childress ranks No. 2 in career steals with 146 and is tied for No. 4 in assists with 394. UC Riverside seeks to end a four-game losing streak. The Highlanders have lost six of their last seven games.
BIG WEST BY THE NUMBERS
5 - Points needed for Brynton Lemar to become the 22nd UC Davis player in school history to reach 1,000 in a career
8 - UC Davis current home court winning streak
170 - Total rebounds for Jackson Rowe, No. 2 on the Cal State Fullerton freshman single-season list