Men's Basketball League Play Begins To Usher In New Year
Files associated with this release:
Men's Basketball Release No. 8
The men's basketball schedule sneaks in a couple of conference games – UC Irvine at Cal State Northridge and UC Davis at Cal State Fullerton – this Thursday as a precursor to the full menu of Big West play that begins right after New Year's Day. Preseason favorite Long Beach State, which knocked off No. 14 Xavier last week for its second win against a top 15 foe, is idle until January 2.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Will Taylor, Cal Poly
Taylor ranks No. 4 in the Big West with 7.6 rebounds per game and has significantly picked up his production over the last four contests. The senior has recorded double-digit boards three times in that stretch, including a 10-rebound effort against DePaul on Wednesday. Taylor added 11 points versus the Blue Demons to solidfy his third double-double this season. Taylor is averaging 10.3 rebounds in his last four outings and a primary reason the Mustangs rank second in the conference with a +7.8 rebounding margin.
Big West Action Begins This Week
In an extremely light week of competition which includes just five games, the schedule sneaks in a couple of conference tilts that signals the beginning of the race for the Big West regular season crown. UC Davis travels to Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge hosts UC Irvine on Thursday as Big West action commences. The league slate goes into full throttle with four games on Monday, Jan. 2 and continues in that fashion, with some teams playing three games that week.
Both UC Davis and UC Irvine look to find road success after finishing a combined 0-12 in non-conference away affairs. However, Cal State Fullerton has lost its last three Big West openers, including setbacks to the Aggies in back-to-back seasons.
The remainder of the week wraps up the non-conference portion of the schedule as UC Riverside treks to Texas-San Antonio, Cal Poly hosts Hope International and Pacific entertains northern California rival Fresno State.
Beach Defeats Second Top 15 Opponent
Long Beach State finished out its brutal non-conference schedule with another signature win as the team spent Christmas in the Hawaiian islands. The 49ers toppled No. 14 Xavier, 68-58, in the opening game of the Diamond Head Classic to pump up the résumé after another 10-point triumph against No. 9 Pittsburgh on Nov. 16. LBSU went on to defeat Southeastern Conference foe Auburn in the semifinals before running out of steam against Kansas State in the Diamond Head Classic championship game. Playing the nation’s toughest non-conference schedule, the 49ers gave a solid account with the Pittsburgh and Xavier victories, as well as giving No. 13 Kansas and No. 4 North Carolina scares on the road. The 49ers were within four late in the game at Kansas and led the Tar Heels at halftime and midway through the second half. This is the first time since the 1992-93 season that LBSU has defeated two ranked opponents in the same season.
|LONG BEACH STATE NON-LEAGUE OPPONENTS
||#9 AP/#9 USA Today
||#6 AP/#6 USA Today
||#13 AP/#13 USA Today
||at North Carolina
||#4 AP/#6 USA Today
||#14 AP/#15 USA Today
* Ranking at time that game was played
More On That Long Beach State Schedule
The combined record of Long Beach State’s nine road and neutral opponents – through Christmas Day – was an incredible 87-21 (.806). San Diego State (11-2), Montana (7-5), Pittsburgh (11-2), Louisville (12-0), Kansas (8-3), North Carolina (11-2), Xavier (9-3), Auburn (8-3) and Kansas State (10-1) gave the 49ers ample preparation to defend their Big West regular season title.
Scoring Options Galore
Cal State Fullerton extended its winning streak to five straight with a come-from-behind 92-86 triumph against Portland State on Thursday. The Titans improved to a league-best 8-3 and secured their longest winning streak since the 2007-08 NCAA Tournament squad. It is the program’s best 11-game start since the 2006-07 edition opened up 9-2. The Titans have scored a conference-best 81.6 points per game thanks to balanced contributions throughout the lineup. In fact, CSF boasts four players who rank in the Big West individual top 10 for scoring, including a trio of Division I transfers. Junior D. J. Seeley (California) ranks No. 6 at 15.5 points per game while junior Kwame Vaughn (San Francisco) is No. 8 (14.7 ppg). Sophomore Isiah Umipig sits at No. 9 in scoring at 14.6 points per game after being selected the 2010-11 Big West Sixth Man of the Year in his first collegiate season. Another Cal transfer, senior Omondi Amoke, is No. 10 in scoring (13.4 ppg).
Robinson On Doorstep Of Rebounding Feat
Long Beach State senior T.J. Robinson moved closer to becoming just the fourth player in Big West history to amass 1,000 career rebounds. The 6-8 forward corraled 30 boards over four games last week to increase his career total to 989. The effort slid him past Pacific’s Ron Cornelius (973, 1978-81) for fourth place in the Big West record book. The three former players ahead of Robinson – Cal State Fullerton’s Tony Neal, UNLV’s Stacey Augmon and Utah State’s Greg Grant – are also the only individuals in league history to compile 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career.
||Tony Neal, Cal State Fullerton
||Stacey Augmon, UNLV
||Greg Grant, Utah State
||T.J. Robinson, Long Beach State
||Ron Cornelius, Pacific
Cal Poly Doing It On The Defensive End
After ranking sixth nationally in scoring defense during the 2010-11 season, allowing a meager 58.9 points per game, Cal Poly is back to its stingy ways on the defensive end. The Mustangs were tied for the fifth-best scoring defense in the country as of December 18, yielding just 53.9 points per contest. Cal Poly’s defensive prowess has led to an 8-4 record, a mark that could be better if not for one loss by two points (Cal State Bakersfield) and two others by five points (Saint Mary’s and DePaul). The Mustangs will be put to the test early and often in the early portion of league play as their first three games take place against the Big West’s most explosive offensive squads – UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton.
Les Ties UC Davis Three-Point Record
Sophomore Tyler Les tied the UC Davis record for most three-pointers made in a game as he sank eight against San Jose State on Tuesday. He was the fourth player in school history to drain that many threes in one game. Les doubled his previous career-high of four that he had accomplished three times earlier this season. In addition, the 24 points he accumulated against the Spartans thanks to the trey barrage established a new career-best and was the most scored by a UC Davis player this season.
Highlanders Winning The Close Ones
After a pair of early four-point losses to Youngstown State and Boston College, UC Riverside seems to have figured out how to win close games. The Highlanders gutted out a 66-64 victory against San Jose State on Thursday to mark their third win by two points or less. UCR defeated Washington State by a single point on Nov. 27 and toppled Montana State by a bucket on Dec. 11. UCR is No. 2 in the Big West in scoring defense (63.1 ppg).