Long Beach State Hosts ESPN3, Prime Ticket Games
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This Week in the Big West - February 10-16, 2014
Men's Basketball Release No. 15
Long Beach State hosts Central Coast foes UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly this week with hopes of overtaking first place in a compact Big West race. The 49ers and Gauchos will play in front of the ESPN3 cameras Thursday, while Saturday's tilt with the Mustangs will air on Prime Ticket.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
• UC Irvine sits in first place this week in a tightly contested Big West race. The Anteaters (7-2) lead UC Santa Barbara by a half game and Long Beach State by a full game. UCI plays a single game at home this week against UC Riverside. UCSB and LBSU square off on Thursday from the Walter Pyramid in a game televised on ESPN3 - WATCH #UCSBvsLBSU HERE. The Gauchos also host Cal State Northridge. Prime Ticket will carry Saturday’s matchup between Cal Poly at Long Beach State at the Pyramid.
• Hawai‘i ventures off the islands after a four-game stretch at home. The Rainbow Warriors visit Cal State Fullerton on Saturday for Homecoming. ESPN3 will air that game - WATCH #HAWAIIvsCSF HERE.
• Fifteen conference games – out of 40 total played – have been decided by five points or less. And of those 15 closely contested games, nine have finished with a margin of three points or less.
• Three “Wild Card” television selections were made this week for March 1 games on ESPN2 and ESPNU, and a March 6 contest on ESPNU. On Saturday, March 1, ESPN2 will broadcast the UC Santa Barbara at UC Davis game at 5 pm, while the Cal Poly at UC Irvine contest will air on ESPNU at 8 pm. ESPNU will also air the Hawai‘i at UC Santa Barbara game on Thursday, March 6 at 6 pm.
• UC Santa Barbara junior Alan Williams remains the nation’s only player to rank in the top 10 in both scoring and rebounding. He is No. 7 in scoring (23.1 ppg) and No. 3 in rebounds (11.4 rpg). Williams is not far from the national leaders Chad Posthumus of Morehead State and UNLV’s Roscoe Smith, each at 11.6 rpg. No Big West player has ever finished a season as the nation’s leader in rebounding.
• UC Irvine 7-foot-6 freshman center Mamadou Ndiaye ranks No. 7 nationally in blocked shots per game (3.4). With 82 blocks on the season, he could break the Big West single-season record of 89 this week.
Tough Sledding: Cal Poly dropped its fourth consecutive game and fifth in the last six with Saturday’s setback in Hawai‘i. The 69-60 loss marked the fifth straight game that Cal Poly has scored 60 or less points. Cal Poly is last in conference games in scoring offense (61.9 ppg).
Odister Moves Up Threes List: Since missing three games due to injury, senior Kyle Odister has hit six three-pointers in his last two outings. The four threes he canned against UH put him in sole possession of eighth place on Cal Poly’s career list. With 158 career treys, Odister needs just three more to leapfrog Ross Ketcham (159) and Lorenzo Keeler (160) for sixth place.
Digging In On “D”: The Mustangs continue to play solid defense. In nine league games, they have yet to allow an opponent to score 70 points, and have held eight opponents to 65 or fewer points. The focus on defense has remained consistent, as the Mustangs lead the Big West in overall games for scoring defense (63.8 ppg).
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Close Calls: The Titans have lost six of their last seven games after coming up shorttagainst UC Riverside and Cal State Northridge last week. Cal State Fullerton led late in both contests, including a three-point advantage on the Matadors with seven seconds left in regulation. A CSUN three tied the scoreline, and CSF eventually fell, 92-83, in overtime.
Keeping It Going: Senior Michael Williams pieced together consecutive 20-point performances last week to extend his streak of scoring in double figures to 22 straight games. The 6-2 guard has reached the 20-point mark five times in his last nine games, and seven times overall this season.
Harris Hits Career-High: Junior Alex Harris reeled off back-to-back 20-point efforts, culminating with a career-high 27 points against CSUN. The 6-1 guard has posted eight straight double-digit scoring outings, averaging 17.4 points during that span. Harris also knocked down a career-high and a Titan season-high seven three-pointers against the Matadors.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
Overtime Overtures: Cal State Northridge seems to favor the extra period these days. Both Matador games last week went to overtime, and the squad has played extra time in three of its last four. Results were mixed, as CSUN lost in OT at UC Davis but fought past Cal State Fullerton.
Free Throws Are Fabulous: The Matadors set Big West single-game highs for free throws made (40) and attempted (47) in the OT win against CSF. They also supported their standing as the conference’s best free throw shooting outfit. CSUN leads the Big West at 77.8% (533 of 685).
More On Free Throws: Senior Josh Greene is a key reason CSUN stands atop the Big West in free throw shooting. By a sizable margin, the 6-0 guard is shooting a Big West best 91.2% (114 of 125). That’s a mark that will eventually break a 50-year old school record currently held by Chuck Malouf, who registered an .869 percentage during the 1963-64 season. Greene also is bidding to become just the fourth player in league history to finish above 90% on free throws.
LONG BEACH STATE
Still In Position: Long Beach State is still positioned to win its fourth straight Big West regular season title following a split of last week’s games against UC Irvine and UC Riverside. The 49ers (6-3) sit in third place, and trail the first-place Anteaters by one game. LBSU has won five of its last six games.
Big Categories: The 49ers enjoyed its third Big West road triumph, a 12-point victory at UC Riverside, and did so thanks to some of their better performances in three-point shooting and assists. They shot a season-best 52.2% (12 of 23) from three-point land and dished out a season-high tying 23 assists.
Caffey Closer To 1,000: Junior guard Mike Caffey had a tough weekend, shooting a combined 5-for-25, but moved within 20 points of becoming Long Beach State’s 23rd player to reach 1,000 for his career.
Jennings Sets Career-High: Senior big man Dan Jennings grabbed a career-best 14 rebounds in the win over UCR. It was the sixth game with double-digit boards for Jennings.
So Close To A Sweep: After an 0-3 start to Big West play, UC Davis is much improved and has won three of its last six games. The Aggies nearly upset the league’s top team, UC Irvine, missing a game-winning three-point attempt with three seconds to play in a 61-59 loss on Saturday.
On The Brink Of 300: Senior Ryan Sypkens hit a trio of three-pointers in Thursday’s 90-86 overtime win versus Cal State Northridge, raising his career total to 297. He is on the cusp of becoming just the fourth player in conference history to record 300 career threes.
Hawkins Next To 1,000?: Junior Corey Hawkins is in line to become the eighth Big West player this season to amass 1,000 career points. In less than two seasons, the 6-3 guard has scored 991 points as an Aggie and is about to become the 19th player in school history to reach 1,000.
Hawkins On Pace: Hawkins is averaging 20.2 points through nine league games to rank No. 2 among all Big West players. He had 27 points in the CSUN win.
Back To Defense: After giving up 90 points to Hawai‘i and 80 to UC Santa Barbara in back-to-back losses, UC Irvine tightened up its defensive effort and produced a pair of wins last week. UCI held both Long Beach State and UC Davis under 60 points, moving to 10-0 when they hit that mark.
Record Set - Again: Freshman Mamadou Ndiaye set his own Big West single-game blocked shots record for the third time this season when he had 11 swats against LBSU. That eclipsed the 10 he had against Eastern Washington (Nov. 24) and nine at Washington (Nov. 14).
Record In Sight: Ndiaye’s 82 blocked shots lead the Big West and rank fifth in single-season conference history. He’s approaching the UCI record of 88 blocks set by teammate Will Davis II last year, and is close to eclipsing the Big West record of 89 by UC Santa Barbara’s Eric McArthur (1989-90).
Great Start: UCI’s 7-2 league start is its best since the 2005-06 season when that group opened Big West play 8-1 through nine games.
Chalk Another One Up: UC Riverside has now played 13 games decided by five points or less this season. The Highlanders held strong down the stretch of Thursday’s 72-69 victory against Cal State Fullerton, hitting their last three field goal attempts and going 4 of 6 from the foul line.
Johns Moves Up In Blocks: Forward Taylor Johns already ranks No. 5 on the UC Riverside career blocked shots list as a sophomore. Johns, who has at least one block in 11 straight games, raised his career total to 73. With 47 blocks this season, Johns is one away from tying BJ Shearry (2010-11) for the fifth spot on the UCR single-season list.
Not All He Can Do: In addition to the defensive prowess Johns is noted for displaying, he’s pretty effective on the scoring and rebounding end too. He recorded his sixth double-double of the season with 20 points and 11 rebounds against Long Beach State on Saturday.
Finding The Range: UCR has shot 50 percent or better in three straight games for a combined 52.0% (90 of 173).
UC SANTA BARBARA
Showdown: UC Santa Barbara, winners of three straight and six of its last seven, travels to Long Beach State for a Thursday night ESPN3 game with possible title implications. The Gauchos are seeking their first season sweep of the 49ers since the 2007-08 season. UCSB is currently one-half game ahead of LBSU in the standings.
Al Reaches Milestone: Junior Alan Williams further cemented his place in UCSB annals with a 17-rebound effort against Hawai‘i. It lifted his career total to 712 rebounds, and made him just the seventh player in school history to accumulate 1,000 points and 700 boards.
Streak Intact: In addition to his rebounding prowess, Williams reeled off his fifth straight 20-point game with exactly 20 against UH. The 6-7 center is averaging 24.0 points over his last five games and ranks seventh nationally in scoring (23.1 ppg).
Telling Stat: The Gauchos are 15-0 this season when limiting their opponent to 70 points or less.
UH Splits Homestand: The Rainbow Warriors finished up a four-game homestand with a 2-2 record after losing to UC Santa Barbara and defeating Cal Poly. The ‘Bows are two games out of first place heading into this week’s road matchups against UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton.
Full Steam Ahead: Sophomore Isaac Fotu extended his double figure scoring streak to 10 straight after averaging 21.5 points in last week’s games. During that span, he has recorded five 20-point performances, including a game-high 27 points versus Cal Poly, and is also shooting a sizzling 66.1% (78 of 118) from the field.
Standhardinger Doubles Up: Senior Christian Standhardinger registered his seventh double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds against the Mustangs on Saturday. UH is 6-1 when Standhardinger posts a double-double.
Nearing Number 20: UH is four wins away from notching its first 20-win season since going 21-12 in 2003-04.