Conference Play Draws Closer For Men's Hoops
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This Week in the Big West - December 30, 2013 to January 5, 2014
Men's Basketball Weekly Release No. 9
One final flurry of non-conference games in men's hoops is on this week's schedule prior to Big West play beginning on Thursday, January 9.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
Need Easternly Win: Cal Poly fell to 0-6 on the road this season with Sunday’s 79-62 loss at Stanford. It was also the 11th straight non-conference road loss for the Mustangs since upsetting UCLA at Pauley Pavilion on Nov. 25, 2012. All six road defeats this year have come by double digits. Cal Poly has one more chance to register a non-league road win when it takes the long trip east to face Delaware on Saturday.
Three-Point Tracker: Senior Kyle Odister knocked down two three-pointers against Stanford, marking the 11th time in the last 12 games that the guard has had at least one trey. With 140 career treys, he sits 10th in the Cal Poly record book and needs three more to tie Shawn Lewis (2007-11) for ninth on the list.
Turnover Toppler: The Mustangs continue to do a good job of valuing the ball as their eight turnovers against the Cardinal marked the fifth time this year that they committed single-digit miscues. Cal Poly leads the Big West in fewest turnovers per game (10.6).
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Rebel Buzzsaw: Cal State Fullerton’s modest two-game win streak ended in Saturday’s 83-64 setback at UNLV. The Titans managed to shoot just 34.9 percent as they fell to 2-4 in road contests this year.
Williams Streak Continues: Senior Michael Williams notched 13 points against the Rebels to secure his 13th straight game in double figures, the only Titan to do so this season. The 6-2 guard also has connected for at least one three-pointers in every game.
One More Chance: Cal State Fullerton seeks its third road win of the year in its final tuneup before Big West begins, traveling to Tulsa on Saturday. The Titans host UC Riverside in their conference opener on Jan. 9.
Bench Mark: In the loss at UNLV, one highlight for the Titans was their bench play. CSF’s bench outscored the Rebels’ 30-18 with Josh Gentry and Steve McClellan leading the way with 11 points apiece. The duo also accounted for both of the team’s blocked shots.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
Momentum: The Matadors, winners of three straight and five of their last six games, close out the non-conference portion of their schedule with a pair of out-of-state road games – Monday at Stephen F. Austin and Thursday at South Dakota.
Tough Task Ahead: The Matadors have an opportunity to record a quality road win in Monday’s matchup with Stephen F. Austin. CSUN hopes to disrupt a 25-game home court win streak by the Lumberjacks. In the team’s last road outing, also in the state of Texas, CSUN nipped Texas A&M-Corpus Christi by one point on Dec. 20.
Maxwell’s House: Junior Stephen Maxwell had another dominating performance in CSUN’s 86-80 win versus Morgan State on Friday. The 6-7 forward scored a career-high 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting and added 12 rebounds to secure his seventh double-double of the season. With 517 career rebounds, Maxwell needs only 17 more to tie Jonathan Heard (2004-08) for 10th place all-time at Cal State Northridge.
LONG BEACH STATE
Heroics: Long Beach State has followed a nine-game skid with a three-game winning streak to pick up momentum with Big West play approaching. The latest victory came Saturday at Nevada, 80-77 in overtime, thanks to Mike Caffey’s game-tying three-point buzzer beater in regulation. Caffey finished with 26 points.
Ball Control: The 49ers tied a season-low with just nine turnovers in the win at Nevada, while recording their third-highest assist total (16). LBSU also helped matters with strong free throw shooting, 78.3 (18-of-23) percent, and overcame a parade of Wolf Pack free throw attempts (35).
Turnaround: LBSU is 3-0 since UCLA transfer Tyler Lamb joined the team. Lamb notched 17 points despite a 5-for-25 shooting performance against Nevada. For the fourth time this season, LBSU takes on a nationally ranked opponent when it faces No. 25 Missouri on Saturday.
Picking It Up: After a slew of underwhelming shooting performances earlier in the year, Caffey has hit 32 of his last 69 shots (46.4%) over the last four games.
Rested And Ready: UC Davis has had a chance to rest for nine days following its 80-74 victory over Air Force on Dec. 21. The Aggies aim for back-to-back wins when they host Furman on Monday.
Sypkens Launches Up Chart: Senior Ryan Sypkens continues his ascent up the Big West career chart in three-pointers made. The 6-4 guard canned seven threes in two games last week, and now has 254 in his career. Sypkens vaulted past Cal State Fullerton’s Josh Akognon (2007-09) and Long Beach State’s Jibril Hodges (2002-06) for the No. 7 spot in Big West history. Next up for Sypkens is Wilbert Hooker of Fresno State (1989-92), in the No. 6 slot with 262 treys.
Peculiar Stat: The Aggies knocked off Air Force by shooting 50.9 percent, the fifth time this season that they have made more than half of their shots. That was despite recording their second-worst three-point shooting percentage (.238) of the season on 5-of-21 efficiency. UC Davis has relied on the three-point shot, leading the Big West in both threes made (93) and attemptsd (281).
Coming Home: The Anteaters closed out a tough four-game roadtrip with a 2-2 record, playing tough but eventually falling at Arizona State, 74-61, on Saturday. The Sun Devils represented UCI’s fourth Pac-12 opponent – all on the road. UCI finished 1-3 in those games.
Record Pace: Freshman 7-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye swatted four shots against Arizona State to increase his Big West leading total to 49 blocks. He is on pace to shatter the league’s single season record of 89, held by UC Santa Barbara’s Eric McArthur since the 1989-90 campaign.
Gearing Up For 1,000: Senior Chris McNealy is on the cusp of becoming the 23rd player in Anteater annals to score 1,000 career points. The 6-4 guard enters the week with 987 points.
Balancing Act: All five Anteater starters are averaging anywhere from nine to 12.0 points per game. They have accounted for 71.3 percent of UCI’s scoring. Junior Will Davis II is UCI’s leading scorer at 12.1 per game.
Snakebitten: The Highlanders found themselves on the wrong end of another nailbiter in Sunday’s 69-67 defeat at Sacramento State. It represented UC Riverside’s fifth loss by less than than five points this season. The five losses – Pepperdine, Seattle, Loyola Marymount, Northern Colorado and Sacramento State – have been by a combined 13 points and the difference between being 4-8 versus 9-3.
Sam He Is: Freshman guard Sam Finley had a breakout game against the Hornets, firing a career-high 20 points in a career-best 31 minutes. It was his first double-digit scoring effort since collecting 16 points off the bench against La Verne on Dec. 5.
Sparkplug: Senior Chris Patton has found a niche coming off the bench for the Highlanders with four straight double-digit scoring performances.
Finding The Free Throw Line: Over the last two games, the Highlanders have taken 59 free throw attempts, including 29 against Northern Illinois and 30 versus Sacramento State.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Keep It Going: With four wins in its last five contests, UC Santa Barbara visits Seattle on Monday for its first action in nine days. The Gauchos face a Redhawks team that is 5-0 against the Big West this season.
Complete Harmon-y: Junior Zalmico Harmon has done an impressive job of running the UC Santa Barbara offense in his first season with the program. The 6-0 guard, in addition to leading the Big West with 5.2 assists per game, has helped the Gauchos post the best assist (16.8) to turnover (10.7) differential in the conference.
Benchmark For Success: The Gauchos are 7-0 this season when holding the opponent under 70 points. Conversely, they are 0-4 when the opposition exceeds the 70-point barrier.
Security Blanket: UCSB has put a premium on protecting the ball. The Gauchos have committed just 23 turnovers over their last three games with an impressive 43 assists over the same span.
Excellent Adventure: Hawai‘i won for the seventh time in its last eight games, and had an impressive showing with wins against Saint Mary’s and Oregon State in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic last week. The Rainbow Warriors went 2-1 in the prestigious tournament for the third time in the last four years.
Sealing The Deal: The Rainbow Warriors used a 23-4 run in the second half to help them in a 79-73 win over Oregon State, the program’s first game against a Pac-12 squad since 2006. The win was the fourth for the Big West against the Pac-12 this season.
Shamburger At The Helm: Junior Keith Shamburger directed the UH offense impeccably in both wins against Saint Mary’s and Oregon State, posting 16 assists against just one turnover.
He’s The Spear-Man: Senior Brandon Spearman recorded his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in the win over the Beavers.