Cal Poly Looks To Extend Home Streak In Battle Of Conference Unbeatens
Links associated with this release:
This Week in the Big West - January 13-19, 2014
Men's Basketball Release No. 11
Winners of 15 straight Big West home games, Cal Poly returns to the Mott Athletics Center in hopes of continuing the streak against Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State. The Mustangs and Matadors enter Thursday's matchup 2-0 in conference play.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
Strong Start Again: For the second straight year, Cal Poly rushed out to a 2-0 Big West start after disposing of two of the league’s top performers in non-conference play – Hawai‘i and UC Santa Barbara. The Mustangs shot a season-best 61.1 (11 of 18) percent from three-point range to derail the Gauchos.
Lightning Strikes In Thunderdome: Cal Poly’s 72-64 victory Saturday at the Thunderdome marked the first time since Jan. 20, 2007 that the Mustangs won in Santa Barbara. Junior Anthony Silvestri knocked down a career-high five threes and compiled 17 points in just 15 minutes to steer Cal Poly to the win.
Sizzling Hot At The Mott: The Mustangs led wire-to-wire in a 77-65 triumph over UH in last Thursday’s league opener, signaling Cal Poly’s fifth straight win over the Rainbow Warriors. It was the 15th straight Big West home win for Cal Poly, which has not lost a conference game at the Mott Athletics Center since Long Beach State triumphed 78-69 on Jan. 19, 2012.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Home Opening W: Cal State Fullerton started Big West play inside Titan Gym for the fourth straight season, and came away with a win for the third year in a row. The Titans posted a 78-73 win over UC Riverside, ending a brief two-game losing streak.
McClellan Steps Up: Junior Steve McClellan made his second straight start after seven reserve appearances, and matched season-highs in both points (13) and rebounds (12). The forward produced his second double-double of the year.
Streak Continues: Senior Michael Williams notched his fourth 20-point game in the last six outings, scoring 21 against the Highlanders. He has reached double figures in scoring in all 15 games this season.
Titans On The World Wide Web: Cal State Fullerton makes its initial appearance on the Big West’s ESPN3 package this Thursday when it travels to Orange County rival UC Irvine.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
Deja Vü?: The Matadors got off to an auspicious start in Big West play, sweeping UC Davis and Hawai‘i at home last week. CSUN began conference play 2-0 for the first time since 2007-08. That year, the Matadors enjoyed a 7-0 Big West start and eventually finished with a share of the regular season title at 12-4.
Maxwell Inches Closer To 1,000: Cal State Northridge could add a third player to the prestigious 1,000-point career scoring list very soon. With teammates Josh Greene (1,249) and Stephan Hicks (1,137) having already achieved the mark, junior Stephen Maxwell is next in line. The forward is 51 points shy of becoming the 18th player in school history to accomplish the feat.
Not Greene Behind The Ears: Greene looks to become just the fourth player in school history to score 1,000 career points and dish out 300 assists. He needs seven more assists to join Markus Carr (1998-02), Ian Boylan (2001-05) and Andre Chevalier (1990-94) on that list. Greene is seventh all-time in career points with 1,249.
LONG BEACH STATE
Home Streak Falls: Long Beach State lost a Big West home game for the first time in ages, falling 46-44 to UC Irvine on Thursday. The 49ers had their 26-game conference home win streak eradicated, a string of success that had lasted since Feb. 17, 2010.
Historic Run Fuels 49ers: The 49ers rebounded with a 25-point triumph, 99-74, against UC Davis on Saturday. Most startling was the way LBSU opened the second half. Down 44-40 at halftime, the 49ers ignited an incredible 30-0 run over the first eight minutes to effectively put the game away. It was LBSU’s widest margin of victory since defeating UC Riverside by 40 on Feb. 16, 2013.
Hammonds Struts His Stuff: Freshman Travis Hammonds, a 6-6 guard who enrolled at LBSU for the spring semester, made a huge impact in the win over the Aggies. He notched a career-high 20 points on 7 of 9 shooting, while adding six rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Lamb Keeps Motoring: Junior transfer Tyler Lamb recorded his sixth straight double-digit scoring effort with 16 points against UC Davis.
Tough Start: UC Davis dropped a pair of Big West road games to Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State to open up league play 0-2.
Sypkens On Three Spree: Senior guard Ryan Sypkens hit nine more three-pointers last week to give him 58 for the season. He has canned 31 of those threes over the last six contests alone.
Climbing: Sypkens continues his assault on the Big West career three-pointers made record, which currently belongs to Pacific’s Adam Jacobsen (1993-98), who made 311. Sypkens is No. 6 on the Big West career list with 278. He’s about to usurp control of the No. 4 spot co-occupied by Utah State’s Tony Brown (1999-02) and UNLV’s Anderson Hunt (1989-91) with 283 apiece.
Don’t Overlook The “D”: It’s true that Corey Hawkins ranks No. 2 in the Big West in scoring (17.8 ppg), but he also has played some solid defense lately too. The 6-3 guard has 14 steals over the last six contests. Hawkins had just 10 steals in the first 10 games.
‘Eaters Pick Up Steam: UC Irvine ran its win streak to four straight games with a pair of Big West road wins versus Long Beach State and UC Riverside. The wins represented UCI’s first Big West weekend road sweep since toppling Pacific and UC Davis Jan. 5 and 7, 2012.
Lock And Key: The Anteaters took exceptional care of the ball in the win over UCR. They committed a season-low four turnovers, the fewest for the program since totalling four against UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 9, 2006.
Pulling Out A Close One: UCI has not been involved in a ton of close games this season, with only three being decided by five points or less. One occurred last Thursday against LBSU, with the ‘Eaters prevailing in a low scoring 46-44 affair.
Success Barometer Not A Mystery: A prime key to an Anteater victory is limiting opponent shooting percentage. UCI held LBSU to 31.5 (17 of 54) percent and UCR to 29.6 (16 of 54) percent, and improved to 9-0 this season when keeping foes below 40 percent shooting.
Seeking Turnaround: UC Riverside has dropped five of its last six games after beginning Big West play 0-2 last week. The Highlanders travel to UC Davis Thursday as both teams seek their first conference win.
Make It A Double-Double: Sophomore Taylor Johns compiled his fourth and fifth double-doubles of the season against Big West foes Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine. He had 21 points and 10 boards against the Titans, followed by 10 points and 11 rebounds versus the Anteaters. Johns has produced seven games of 10 or more rebounds.
Block Party: Johns has provided solid defense for the Highlanders as well. He ranks No. 3 in the Big West with 2.1 blocked shots per game. The 6-7 forward has 11 swats in his last four games. With 33 blocks, Johns needs just two more to break into the UCR single-season top 10.
Freebies: UCR posted its second and third-best single-game free throw percentages against CSF (80.0% - 24 of 30) and UCI (79.2% - 19 of 24). The Highlanders shot a season-best 92.6 (25 of 27) percent versus La Verne on Dec. 5.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Stopped In Tracks: UC Santa Barbara ran into a rival buzzsaw in its Big West opener, losing 72-64 to Cal Poly. It was just UCSB’s third loss in the last 14 meetings against the Mustangs. UCSB came into the game winners of six of its last seven contests.
Al Approaches Milestone: Junior Alan Williams is 22 points away from becoming the 26th player in UCSB history to score 1,000 career points. He would be the fifth Big West player to reach the milestone this season.
Steamrolling: Williams leads the Big West in scoring (24.2 ppg) and has a league-leading 10 20-point games, including in five straight. His 33 points against Cal Poly marked the second-highest single-game total in his career.
Nunnally Signs With Hawks: Former UCSB standout James Nunnally signed a 10-day contract with the Atlanta Hawks and became the second Gaucho to inhabit an NBA roster this season, joining former teammate Orlando Johnson (Indiana Pacers). Nunnally averaged 18.2 points in 19 starts with the NBDL’s Bakersfield Jam.
Different Story: Hawai‘i compiled the Big West’s best non-conference record at 11-3 and seemed to own all the momentum going into conference play, but faltered last week with a pair of road losses to Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge. UH began Big West play last season 2-0.
Familiarity With The Close Ones: Four of UH’s last seven games have been decided by four points or less. The Rainbow Warriors have gone 2-2 in those games, with both setbacks coming by a mere point – Boise State and CSUN.
Fotu Time: Sophomore Isaac Fotu nabbed his second double-double of the season, posting 16 points and a season-high 11 rebounds against the Matadors He also grabbed a season-best five offensive boards. Fotu (6.6 rpg) and teammate Christian Standhardinger (7.4) give UH two players ranked in the Big West top 10 in rebounding.
Something Must Give: UH hosts UC Riverside on Saturday in its Big West home opener. Both squads are 0-2 in league play entering this week. The Rainbow Warriors are a conference-best 9-2 on their home court this season.