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Men's Basketball

Big West Play Tips Off With Gauchos, 49ers On ESPNU

Files associated with this release:
Men's Basketball Release No. 8

12/27/2010

Men's basketball conference play commences this week with a showdown between preseason media favorites UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State.  The two teams face off on ESPNU on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. in a rematch of the 2010 Big West Tournament championship game.

NOTEWORTHY

KEEP AN EYE ON

Sam Willard, Pacific
Willard produced his ninth double-double of the season with 17 points and a season-high tying 16 rebounds in Pacific’s 65-55 road win against Fresno State on Tuesday.  Willard ranks in the nation’s top five in double-doubles.  He has recorded a double-double in all but three games and leads the Big West in rebounding with 10.8 per game.  The senior also is the league’s fourth-leading scorer at 16.6 points per game.  Dating back to the 2009-10 season, Willard has notched a double-double in 15 of the last 21 games.

MORE NOTABLES

Big West Play Begins With ESPNU Showdown
The league ledger begins in earnest this week with a televised matchup between the two favorites to win the regular season championship.  Defending champion UC Santa Barbara hosts Long Beach State on Tuesday in an 8:00 p.m. showdown on ESPNU.  It is a rematch of last season’s Big West Tournament final won by the Gauchos, 69-64.  UCSB enters the game 6-4 and winners of four of its last five games.  LBSU takes a four-game losing streak into the final leg of a seven-game roadtrip, but the 5-8 record by the 49ers is balanced by the fact that they have the nation’s fourth-most difficult non-conference schedule according to Jeff Sagarin’s ratings. 

Other League Matchups
The opening night of Big West play also features UC Irvine hosting UC Riverside, UC Davis traveling to Cal State Fullerton and Pacific visiting Cal State Northridge.  League play continues on Thursday as Cal Poly hosts its Big West opener against Long Beach State.

Ware Named Candidate For Bob Cousy Award
Long Beach State junior Casper Ware is one of 66 players who have been nominated for the 2011 Bob Cousy Award, recognizing the nation’s top college basketball point guard.  Ware leads the Big West in steals (2.1 spg) and assists (6.3 apg), while his 14.6 points per game place him No. 10 on the league’s scoring chart.  Ware has scored in double figures in nine straight and 11 of 13 games this season.  He posted 22 points and 10 assists in a narrow 96-91 loss at North Carolina on Dec. 11.  The original list of candidates will be trimmed to the final 20 by January 3, the final 10 by February 3 and the final five by March 3.  The winner of the 2011 Bob Cousy Award will be presented at the Hall of Fame’s Class Announcement on April 4 in Houston.

Big West’s Highest Scoring Duo

The conference’s top two scorers continue to be UC Santa Barbara’s James Nunnally (20.2 ppg) and Orlando Johnson (18.7 ppg).  Nunnally and Johnson rank No. 19 and No. 35 in the nation in scoring, respectively.  The dynamic duo has accounted for 389 of the Gauchos’ 692 points, or 56.2% of the total offense this season.

Here is a list of the top two scorers for each Big West school, their combined points and percentage of total offense contributed.

BIG WEST’S TOP SCORING DUOS
School    Duo                                                        Pts.    Pct.
UCSB      James Nunnally & Orlando Johnson     389     56.2
CP           David Hanson & Shawn Lewis              330     53.1
PAC         Sam Willard & Demetrece Young          352     45.4
CSUN      Lenny Daniel & Rashaun McLemore     328    42.2
UCD        Joe Harden & Mark Payne                     331    41.5
CSF        Orane Chin & Devon Peltier                   348     40.7
LBSU      Casper Ware & T.J. Robinson                379     40.7
UCR        Phil Martin & Javon Borum                    292     39.0
UCI         Darren Moore & Patrick Rembert           345     38.0

Honda Center New Home Of Tournament
Honda Center last November announced a five-year partnership with the Big West Conference to host its annual men’s and women’s post-season basketball tournament beginning in 2011.  Each year the winner of the three-day single-elimination playoff receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Big West and Honda Center have teamed up for “March Madness” and “The Road To The Final Four” on numerous occasions including men’s basketball regionals in 1998, 2001 and 2003 and first and second round action in 2008.  In addition, the Big West and Honda Center was selected as host of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball West Regional.

The Big West Tournament is the oldest NCAA Division I post-season basketball tournament in the west, dating back to 1976 when the conference was known as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association.

All-session tickets for the 2011 Big West Tournament may be purchased at hondacenter.com.  For more information, please call (714) 704-2500 or email bigwesttournament@hondacenter.com.  Courtside (first 4 rows) all-session tickets cost $144 apiece.  All other all-session tickets cost $64 apiece.

UC Santa Barbara Looks To Continue Streak At Home
UC Santa Barbara takes an 11-game home court winning streak into its game Tuesday against rival Long Beach State.  The Gauchos won all eight conference home games during the 2009-10 season.  Dating back to the 2008-09 season, the Gauchos have won 20 of their last 22 games at The Thunderdome.

Borum Enjoys Comeback Season
UC Riverside guard Javon Borum sat out the 2009-10 season with an injured Achilles, but has recovered and asserted himself this season.  The senior is the team’s second-leading scorer (12.6 ppg) and has reached double figures in points in eight straight games.  In that span, Borum is averaging 15.6 points per game and shooting 48.9% (45 of 92) from the field.

Lewis Aims For 1,000-Point Milestone
Cal Poly senior Shawn Lewis looks to become the fifth Big West player to hit the 1,000-point career milestone this season.  UC Davis teammates Mark Payne and Joe Harden, Long Beach State’s T.J. Robinson and UC Irvine’s Eric Wise already have accomplished the feat.  Lewis has 983 career points and requires only 17 more to become the 15th Mustang to join the exclusive club.

Hardy Provides Boost In Debut For Titans
After missing the team’s initial 11 games due to ankle surgery, Cal State Fullerton junior Andre Hardy made his Titan debut on Wednesday against Montana.  The transfer from Oral Roberts contributed a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds in 21 minutes to give CSF a much needed boost on the frontline.  He is expected to make his first start in Tuesday’s Big West opener versus UC Davis.

Follow Your Team On BigWest.TV
The Big West Conference and the CBS College Sports Network are partnering to bring you exclusive coverage of Big West sports, press conferences, interviews, and features to your home via the Internet!  Now in its sixth year, BigWest.TV covers every home and conference contest in men’s basketball as well as women’s basketball and volleyball.  Also covered are select contests in men’s and women’s soccer, baseball, softball, and Big West Conference Championships.  A monthly subscription of $9.95 or an annual subscription of $79.95 delivers exclusive coverage to you.  If you can’t make it to the gym or the field, you can still catch all the action on BigWest.TV!