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Men's Basketball

Cal Poly Looks To Keep Within Striking Distance Of First Place Long Beach State

Files associated with this release:
Men's Basketball Release No. 15

2/14/2011

Cal Poly trails league-leading Long Beach State by two games in the men's basketball standings, and hosts a key conference matchup against Cal State Northridge on Wednesday.  However, the 49ers can clinch at least a share of the regular season championship with a win over UC Riverside coupled with a Cal Poly loss to the Matadors.

NOTEWORTHY

KEEP AN EYE ON

Patrick Rembert, UC Irvine
Rembert nearly achieved the first triple-double in UC Irvine history when he recorded 16 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in a huge 66-63 win over UC Santa Barbara that took the Anteaters one step closer toward a Big West Tournament berth.  The nine assists tied Rembert’s career high, and he scored 10 of his points in the final 7:19 as UCI halted a five-game losing streak.  Rembert, the team’s third-leading scorer at 12.6 points per game, is averaging 16.2 over the last six games.  He also has hit 32 of his last 37 free throw attempts.

MORE NOTABLES

Key Second Place Battle On Tap This Week
Time is running out on teams looking to intercept Long Beach State and prevent the 49ers from winning their first regular season Big West title since the 2006-07 season.  LBSU (15-10, 10-2) has won four straight and 10 of its last 12 games, owning a two-game lead with four to go.  Chasing the 49ers and squaring off against each other in a crucial Wednesday contest are Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge.  The Mustangs (13-11, 8-4), winners of five straight games, hold down second place and have a one-game cushion on the third place Matadors (10-15, 7-5).

The matchup with the Matadors is additionally important for Cal Poly, which travels to Long Beach State on Feb. 24.  In the event that Cal Poly beats CSUN and LBSU falters against UC Riverside this week, the Feb. 24 showdown would create a battle for first place.  On the other hand, the 49ers would wrap up at least a regular season co-championship with a win against the Highlanders, coupled with a CSUN victory versus Cal Poly.

Cal Poly’s five straight wins marks the program’s longest winning streak in four years.

Defensive Stampede
Cal Poly’s rise to the upper echelon of the Big West standings has been predicated on defense.  The Mustangs lead the conference and rank 10th in the nation in scoring defense (58.7 ppg).  Cal Poly is also No. 1 nationally in defending the three-point line, allowing opponents to shoot a measly 26.8 percent (106 of 396) from behind the arc.  The team is 5-0 in games in which it holds the opposition under 50 points.

Moving Toward Uncharted Territory
With eight conference wins, Cal Poly has recorded the program’s highest Big West win total since the 2006-07 squad finished 9-5 and in a tie for second place.  The Mustangs have won nine league games twice (2001-02, 2006-07) and their all-time high was 10 victories in 2002-03 when the Big West played an 18-game league schedule.

Willard Ranked In Top 10 For Double-Doubles
Pacific senior Sam Willard is tied for seventh in the nation with 15 double-doubles.  He notched 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Tigers to a 70-66 comeback victory over UC Davis on Saturday.  The 11 boards increased his career total to 813 rebounds and moved him to within 24 of entering the Big West top 10.  Former NBA players Tod Murphy (1983-96) and Larry Johnson (1990-91) tallied 837 boards at UC Irvine and UNLV, respectively.

Long Beach State Hosts Sears BracketBusters Game
Long Beach State will host one of 11 televised matchups as part of the Sears BracketBusters event.  The 49ers will play Montana of the Big Sky Conference this Saturday, at 8:00 p.m. on ESPN2.  It marks the second time in the last three seasons that LBSU has earned a televised BracketBusters game, having hosted Green Bay in 2009.

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.

Home Court Heartbreak And Close Affairs
After beating UC Davis by 16 points in their Big West home opener, Cal State Fullerton has played a number of tight games in Titan Gym.  In fact, the ensuing six home conference games have all been decided by six points or less, including two excruciatingly difficult back-to-back losses on Feb. 5 to UC Riverside (70-69) and Feb. 10 to Cal State Northridge (70-68).  The Titans have played more games (10) decided by five points or less than anyone else in the Big West, and are 4-6 in outcomes.

Ten Points From 10th To 1,000
Long Beach State junior Larry Anderson is 10 points away from becoming the 10th Big West player this season to amass 1,000 career points.  He would also become the 20th player in 49er history to accomplish the feat, joining teammates T.J. Robinson and Casper Ware in the exclusive club.  A fourth 49er, senior Greg Plater, is also very much in the mix for 1,000 as he enters the week with 928 career points.

Thomason Inches Closer To All-Time Wins Record
Pacific’s Bob Thomason moved to within four wins of tying Jerry Tarkanian’s record for most victories by a Big West head coach.  Tarkanian won a combined 405 games during tenures at Long Beach State and UNLV.  Thomason is 401-285 at Pacific.

Three-Point Turnaround
UC Santa Barbara senior Justin Joyner has undergone quite the transformation as a perimeter shooter.  Through his first three seasons as a Gaucho, the guard shot 27.6% (37 of 134) from three-point range.  In 2009-10, Joyner made just 3 of 16, 18.8%, from downtown.  Fast forward to the 2010-11 season and Joyner leads the Big West in three-point field goal percentage, shooting 47.7% (21 of 44) overall.

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