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Men's Basketball

Light Schedule Ahead For Men's Hoops This Week


Weekly Release No. 6

In the midst of fall final exams this week, Big West men's basketball squads prepare for a light yet challenging load of on-court tests.


UC Irvine Continues Impressive Start
UC Irvine defeated Montana – the Big Sky Conference preseason media poll favorite to capture that league’s title – on Saturday to win for the ninth time in 11 games to start out the 2018-19 season.  The 9-2 start represents UCI’s best since 2000-01 when that club opened 9-2 and eventually was 17-2 before losing a third game.  The Anteaters return to action Saturday at home against Denver following a week of taking finals.

Road Warriors
UCI’s win at Cal Baptist on December 5 represented its ninth straight in true road games, the nation’s second-longest current streak behind Virginia and Gonzaga at 10 apiece.  The Anteaters won their last five road games of the 2017-18 season and are 4-0 in hostile arenas this year.  UCI’s next road tilt is Wednesday, December 19 at Eastern Michigan (ESPN+).

Winning Formula Is Defense
UCI moved to 5-0 on the season when limiting the opponent to 60 points or less, hitting that mark again in the 60-51 win over Montana.  Defense is the cornerstone of head coach Russell Turner’s program, and the benchmark for success over the last six-plus seasons.  Consider that the Anteaters are an impressive 84-5 since 2012-13 when an opponent fails to exceed 60 points.  The year-by-year record:

2012-13 - 12-0
2013-14 - 17-0               
2014-15 - 15-2   
2015-16 - 10-0
2016-17 - 14-3
2017-18 - 11-0
2018-19 - 5-0

UC Santa Barbara Keeps It Going
UC Santa Barbara has opened up 7-2 in each of the first two seasons of the Joe Pasternack era.  Pasternack’s year one squad began 8-2 last year, and the Gauchos hope to match that mark when they travel to Rice for a Saturday afternoon matinee on ESPN+.  The Gauchos are 30-11 through the first 41 games under Pasternack’s tutelage.

Road Unkind

UCI is an undefeated 4-0 in road games this season, but the success in enemy territory stops there.  The other eight schools are a combined 2-30 in true road games.  UCSB won at Wyoming on the opening night of the season, while CSUN defeated Pepperdine in Malibu on Dec. 3.  Six schools are still seeking their first road win.  Cal Poly (0-4, at California), Cal State Fullerton (0-4, at San Francisco), and UC Riverside (0-5, at UTEP) hope to find success on the road this week.

Home Is Where The Success Is
The Big West turned in an impressive 7-1 mark last week on the home hardwood, and improved to a combined 22-10 at home this season. In comparison to the 32 home games Big West teams have enjoyed so far, the other 55 have been contested on road or neutral courts.  Of the 117 non-league Division I games Big West teams will play by January, only 39 will take place at home, or 33.3% of the total.


Big West squads have lined up another challenging non-conference slate which includes a minimum of 24 games against opponents which advanced to the NCAA Tournament or National Invitational Tournament last season.  Thirteen out of 14 games scheduled against 2018 NCAA teams will be played on the road or at a neutral site.  In fact, all but the Dec. 8 Montana at UC Irvine game will not be played at a Big West home facility.  The possibility to play additional games against 2018 postseason teams is dependent on the outcomes of several tournaments within the first couple of months.

Games Against 2018 NCAA Tournament Teams
Nov. 6     Cal State Fullerton at Arizona State
Nov. 9     Long Beach State at UCLA
Nov. 9     UC Irvine at Texas A&M
Nov. 11   Cal Poly at Arizona
Nov. 12   Long Beach State at Arizona State
Nov. 12   UC Davis at Arkansas
Nov. 19   Long Beach State vs. Iona
Nov. 23   Hawai‘i vs. Seton Hall
Nov. 28   Hawai‘i at UCLA
Dec. 8     Montana at UC Irvine
Dec. 19   CSUN at New Mexico State
Dec. 21   UC Irvine at Butler
Dec. 22   UC Davis at Arizona   
Jan. 1      CSUN at San Diego State

Games Against 2018 NIT Teams
Nov. 16    Long Beach State at Mississippi State
Nov. 22    Hawai‘i vs. Utah
Nov. 28    UC Irvine at Saint Mary’s
Nov. 28    Long Beach State at USC
Dec. 2      UC Santa Barbara at Washington
Dec. 10    Cal State Fullerton at Saint Mary’s
Dec. 22    Cal State Fullerton at Nebraska
Dec. 29    Long Beach State at Stanford
Dec. 30    UC Davis at USC
Jan. 1      Cal State Fullerton at Washington

Long Beach State’s DAN MONSON is the dean of Big West head coaches, entering his 12th season roaming the sidelines of the Walter Pyramid.  He ranks eighth all-time in conference history with 188 wins, while his 114 Big West victories is sixth all-time.  Only five Big West head coaches have accumulated 200 or more wins during their tenure with the conference – Bob Thomason (Pacific, 436), Jerry Tarkanian (Long Beach State & UNLV, 405), Bob Williams (UC Santa Barbara, 313), Neil McCarthy (New Mexico State, 248) and Jerry Pimm (UC Santa Barbara, 222).  Monson has won a minimum of 15 games in each of the last 10 seasons, needing that total to get to 200 for his career during the 2018-19 campaign.  Monson needs seven wins to catch Fresno State’s Boyd Grant (194) and 10 to surpass UC Irvine’s Pat Douglass (197) in the Big West record book.

RUSSELL TURNER notched his 164th win all-time at UC Irvine when his team defeated Saint Mary’s on Nov. 28, moving him past Bill Mulligan for second place on the career wins list at the school.  He now needs to surpass Pat Douglass (197, 1997-2010) for the record.  In addition, Turner is now tied with CSUN’s Bobby Braswell (2001-13) for 10th in Big West history with 166 wins.  He needs one more win to tie Utah State’s Stew Morrill for No. 9 on the Big West career wins list.  Turner is on pace to become the third-fastest coach in league history to reach the 200-win mark.  The ninth-year coach has led the Anteaters to 20-win campaigns in five of the last six seasons.


Coach, Team Years Wins
Bob Thomason, Pacific 25 436
Jerry Tarkanian, Long Beach State/UNLV 14 405
Bob Williams, UC Santa Barbara 19 313
Neil McCarthy, New Mexico State 12 248
Jerry Pimm, UC Santa Barbara 15 222
Pat Douglass, UC Irvine 13 197
Boyd Grant, Fresno State 9 194
Dan Monson, Long Beach State 12 188
Stew Morrill, Utah State 7 167
Bobby Braswell, CSUN 12 166
Russell Turner, UC Irvine 9 166

After opening the season ranked No. 24 in the preseason Mid-Major Top 25 poll, UC Irvine enters the week at a season-best No. 13.  The Anteaters are riding a five-week run inside the top 25, and have been no lower than their preseason ranking.  Other conference schools have been recognized in the “others receiving votes” section of the poll – Cal State Fullerton, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara and Hawai‘i.  The Gauchos fell out of that portion of the poll this week despite a 7-2 record.