Nonconference Tests Continue For Men's Hoops
Men's Basketball Release No. 5
Tough nonconference battles in men's basketball await the Big West this week. Highlighted among them include Long Beach State hosting Creighton and traveling to North Carolina State, while UC Santa Barbara visits UCLA and entertains California.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
Back Home For Two: Cal Poly returns to the Mott Athletics Center for a pair of games over the next two weeks, beginning with a game this Saturday against Santa Clara. The Mustangs are coming off a 1-2 performance at the Global Sports Hardwood Challenge in Eugene, Ore.
Another Close Loss: The Mustangs lost their second game this season by a single basket, falling 73-71 to former Big West member Pacific on Saturday. Senior Kyle Odister missed a potential game-tying shot at the buzzer. Cal Poly lost by two points to Nevada (60-58) back on Nov. 12.
Double-Double: Senior Chris Eversley posted his ninth career double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to Pacific. It was also the second game at the Oregon-hosted tournament that he recorded double-digit rebounds. Eversley had 10 caroms against North Dakota.
Ball Control: Cal Poly leads the Big West and ranks No. 11 in the nation in fewest turnovers per game (9.6).
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Skid Reaches Five: The Titans lost all three games at the DirecTV Wooden Legacy last weekend, falling to No. 25 Marquette, Miami (FL) and College of Charleston. Cal State Fullerton has now lost five in a row. The team seeks to stop the slide on Wednesday at Pepperdine.
Williams Producing At High Level: Senior guard Michael Williams averaged 15.0 points in three DirecTV Wooden Legacy Classic games and extended his personal streak of double-digit scoring contests to eight straight. Williams ranks No. 10 in the Big West in scoring at 14.1 points per game.
Blackwell Emerges: Look for freshman Sheldon Blackwell to make positive strides for the Titan program. The 6-5 guard made the first two starts of his collegiate career against Miami (FL) and College of Charleston. Against the Hurricanes, he produced 13 points to go along with six assists and three steals. Blackwell knocked down seven of his 14 floor shots in the two starts.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
Home Sweet Home: Following a nine-day roadtrip that logged nearly 6,000 miles, Cal State Northridge returned to the Matadome Sunday and walloped La Sierra by a 97-79 score. It was the first of three straight and five of the next six on the CSUN home floor.
Hicks On Cusp Of Milestone: Cal State Northridge junior Stephan Hicks should become the 17th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points against Southern Utah on Tuesday. The 6-6 guard/forward enters the game with 998 points.
On A Roll: Hicks has approached the 1,000 point barrier rather quickly using a recent stretch of scoring prowess. He has reeled off four straight 20-point games, and is shooting 60.8 percent (31-for-51) during that span.
That’s Efficient: Junior Stephen Maxwell made the most of his 23 minutes against La Sierra, compiling his fourth double-double of the season with 21 points and 13 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end.
LONG BEACH STATE
Streak At Seven: Long Beach State lost its seventh consecutive game, but did so while putting up a tremendous fight. The 49ers took Washington to double overtime before succumbing, 92-89. The seven-game skid is the program’s longest since 2007-08 when the 49ers ended the season with eight straight defeats.
Monson Looking For Space: Head coach Dan Monson sits at 105 career wins while at Long Beach State. He currently shares the No. 2 spot for most wins with Seth Greenberg (1990-96). He looks to take sole possession of that spot with his next win, with a chance to do so Tuesday against Creighton.
Caffey Remarkable Against Huskies: Junior Mike Caffey notched a career-high 28 points and tied his career best of nine assists in the loss to Washington. The point guard also made a season-high four three-pointers in the game.
Beach On The Tube: The seventh game in LBSU’s young season is slated for the tube on Saturday when Fox Sports Prime Ticket will show the 49ers play at North Carolina State.
Looking To Rebound: UC Davis lost its fourth straight game with Monday’s 77-53 setback at Seattle. It was the sixth game in 11 days for the Aggies, which now has four days to regroup before returning to the court on Saturday against Nevada at home.
Ritchart Moves Closer To 1,000: Senior Josh Ritchart averaged 16.7 points over three games last week, leading the team in scoring twice. The forward is now within 33 points of becoming the 20th Aggie to achieve 1,000 for his career.
Shooting Star: Ritchart, who has shot 50 percent or better from the field in all nine games, ranks third in the Big West with a .632 field goal percentage. More impressively, almost one-third of his attempts have come from beyond the arc. Ritchart is the Big West leader in three-point field goal percentage (.562), and has hit eight of his last 15 from distance.
Hawkins Finding Touch: Junior Corey Hawkins has scored in double figures in eight straight games, although his scoring average (15.5) is down from last year’s 20.3.
Season Low: UC Irvine struggled to season-lows in points and field goal percentage (.294) in a, 73-56, loss at California Monday. The Anteaters had defeated two consecutive Pac-12 opponents before running into a Bear buzzsaw. UCI has two more Pac-12 foes on its schedule – Oregon (Dec. 17) and Arizona State (Dec. 28).
Davis With Designs On 500-Rebound Club: Junior Will Davis II is close to joining an exclusive club at UCI – the 500-rebound club. With 475 career boards, Davis II is only 25 away from becoming the 20th player in school history to hit that total.
Second Half Thunder: The Anteaters turned a slim one-point halftime lead over Sacramento State into a blowout, blitzing the Hornets 48-21 in the second stanza to run away with a 79-53 triumph. UCI shot 67.9% (19 of 28) in the second half.
Enjoy It While It Lasts: UCI’s home game against Pepperdine Saturday is the lone one in a seven-game stretch.
Down To The Wire: The reality is UC Riverside is 2-4, but easily could be 5-1. The Highlanders lost their third game this season by four points or less following Monday’s 73-69 decision against Loyola Marymount.
Common Theme: In UCR’s three close losses to Pepperdine (69-66), Seattle (69-68) and LMU, a common theme emerges – discrepancies in free throw attempts and free throw accuracy. The Highlanders have attempted just 47 free throws in the three losses, compared to 75 for the opponents. However, UCR hasn’t made the most of its freebie opportunities, hitting at just a 61.7% (29 of 47) clip. Meanwhile, the opponents are connecting at a 77.3% (58 of 75) success rate.
Johns Impressive: Taylor Johns continued his breakout sophomore season against Loyola Marymount with a game-high 22 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. It was his first career double-double. Johns ranks seventh in the Big West in both scoring (16.0 ppg) and rebounding (7.7 rpg) after playing primarily off the bench as a freshman.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Feeling Just Fine: After two difficult losses not helped by the absence of leading scorer and rebounder Alan Williams, the big man’s return against South Dakota State Friday was just what the Gauchos needed. Williams erupted for 39 points, nine rebounds and eight blocked shots to help UCSB to a 19-point win. It was a fantastic sight for Gaucho fans, who witnessed Williams miss the previous two games with back spasms.
Pac-12 Week For UCSB: UC Santa Barbara takes on a pair of Pac-12 foes this week in UCLA and Cal. The last meeting between the Gauchos and Bruins resulted in a 61-60 UCSB win on Dec. 17, 2003 in Westwood. After the road game at UCLA, the Gauchos host the Golden Bears, an opponent which helped open UCSB’s home court, the Thunderdome, back on Nov. 30, 1979 when the building was known as “The Campus Events Center.”
Z-Man: Junior Zalmico Harmon had career highs of 14 points and eight assists in the win versus South Dakota State. He leads the Big West in assists at 4.8 per game.
In Rhythm: Hawai‘i improved to a Big West-best 5-2 after a pair of double-digit victories at home. The Rainbow Warriors pounded New Orleans (91-58) and toppled Montana (72-61). All five UH victories have been by double digits.
Standhardinger Dominating: Senior Christian Standhardinger posted his fourth 20-point game, including his third in the last four, when he erupted for a season-high 26 points against Montana. The 6-8 forward is averaging 18.4 points per game to rank third in the Big West in scoring. He now has 15 career games of 20 points or more.
Scoring Leaders: UH has scored 80 points or more in five of its first seven games. The Rainbow Warriors lead the Big West in scoring at 86.9 points per game. Four players are averaging double figures in points.
From Downtown: Hawai‘i hit season-highs for three-pointers (10) and three-point field goal percentage (.500) in the win against New Orleans. The ‘Bows previous high in a game was seven treys.