UC Davis Seeks To Continue Best Start In 62 Years
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This Week In The Big West - December 1-7, 2014
2014-15 Men's Basketball Release No. 4
Off to its best start in 62 years, the UC Davis men's basketball team looks to improve upon its 5-0 record with games against San Jose State and Idaho this week.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
Coming Home: The Mustangs return to the Mott Athletics Center for their final home game of 2014 when Menlo College visits on Saturday. Cal Poly sustained back-to-back road defeats to California and Saint Mary’s last week.
Bracing For A Long Trip: Following the Menlo College game, the Mustangs prepare for a season-long seven-game roadtrip that begins on Dec. 13 at Fresno State and ends in the Big West opener Jan. 7 at Hawai‘i.
Nation’s Leader: Through five games, Cal Poly leads the nation in fewest turnovers per game (6.2). The Mustangs have a substantial edge on the two teams next in the rankings, Illinois and Northern Colorado, which are tied for second at 8.8 per game.
Nwaba Off To Good Start: Junior David Nwaba has pieced together five straight double-digit scoring games, including a season-high 19 points in his last outing against Saint Mary’s. He ranks No. 10 in the Big West with 13.4 points per game.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Successful Trip: Cal State Fullerton carved out a 2-1 record at the Spartanburg Marriott Upstate Classic last week, sandwiching a pair of neutral court wins against Wright State and Florida International around a loss to host S.C. Upstate. The Titans seek their first true road win this season when they travel to UCLA for a Wednesday tilt.
Lanneryl’s Land: Junior Lanneryl Johnson scored a season-high 27 points against Wright State and then bettered that mark the very next game with 31 versus S.C. Upstate. He finished the tournament with an average of 23.0 points, and excelled at the free throw line where he hit 23-of-28 attempts (82.1%). The Central Arizona JC transfer is the No. 3 scorer in the Big West at 18.1 points per game.
Close Calls: The Titans are 3-1 in games decided by five points or less, which matches the total number of wins they had last season in similar situations. In 2013-14, CSF owned a 3-6 record in games that were determined by five points or less.
Break That Streak: The Matadors have lost three straight games heading into a busy week where they play three games in five days. CSUN seeks to snap the losing streak against South Dakota on Tuesday.
Scoring Backtrack: The Matadors were held under 60 points in back-to-back losses last week to Portland State (63-55) and Seattle (70-58). It was the first time since Feb. 6 and Feb. 10, 2010 that CSUN had suffered consecutive sub-60 scoring performances.
Tre Hale’s Tale: Junior Tre Hale-Edmerson had one of the better all-around stat lines at Seattle last Saturday, posting 10 points, five rebounds, three blocked shots and six steals in 38 minutes. His school career record in blocked shots now stands at 104.
Consistency: CSUN is one of only two Big West clubs – UC Davis is the other – to usher out the same starting lineup in every game played this season.
LONG BEACH STATE
Record Sealed: Eighth-year head coach Dan Monson became the all-time wins leader at Long Beach State, picking up No. 123 on Sunday when the 49ers defeated Xavier, 73-70, in the third place game of the Wooden Legacy at Honda Center. Monson surpassed Hall of Famer Jerry Tarkanian for the record.
Déjà Vu?: With wins over Kansas State (Big 12 Conference) and Xavier (Big East Conference), the 49ers have defeated two teams from Power 6 conferences in the same season for the first time since 2011-12. That also happened to be the last time LBSU reached the NCAA Tournament.
Caffey Climbs: Senior guard Mike Caffey moved into the No. 7 slot all-time at Long Beach State for career assists with 371. He is also now No. 12 in scoring with 1,265 points.
Three-Point Turnaround: In 2013-14, the 49ers ranked eighth in the Big West in three-point field goal percentage, connecting at a 31.2% (191-of-613) rate. This season is a different story. LBSU tops the conference and ranks 20th nationally in the category at 42.3%. Caffey is tied for 46th in the nation at 47.6% (20-of-42).
What A Start: UC Davis toppled Utah State and Utah Valley last week to push its record to 5-0, equalling the program’s best start in 62 years. The Aggies lead the Big West in scoring defense, allowing opponents to score a paltry 54.2 points per game en route to the solid start.
Like Father, Like Son: In Wednesday’s 77-70 overtime victory against Utah State, the Aggies would not have gotten to the extra period without the heroics of senior guard Tyler Les. Tyler, son of head coach Jim Les, the former NBA three-point shooting champion, did his best impersonation of his father when he drilled a 25-foot three at the buzzer to send tte game into OT.
Ritchart Hits 1,000: Senior Josh Ritchart became the 21st Aggie to score 1,000 career points when he knocked down a trey on his first field goal attempt against Utah State.
Fox Making Mark: Josh Fox, who played one season at fellow Big West member UC Riverside, has made an impact for the Aggies. He’s averaging 15.3 points and shooting 77.8% (21-of-27) from the field over his last three contests.
Back To The Grind: UC Irvine snapped a brief two-game losing streak with a road triumph against Loyola Marymount on Saturday. The Anteaters finish off a four-game roadtrip on Wednesday versus Fresno State, hoping to avenge a one-point loss in overtime last year on a 40-foot running jumper.
Mamadou In The Rankings: Mamadou Ndiaye made 10 of his 11 field goal attempts en route to a career-high 21 points against LMU. The 7-6 center ranks No. 5 in the nation in field goal percentage (.694).
Davis II Approaches 1,000 Points: Senior Will Davis II has scored 993 career points entering Wednesday’s road game at Fresno State. He is closing in on becoming the 24th player in UCI history to compile 1,000 points.
Souza Strikes From Three: Senior Travis Souza also played a big role in UCI’s win at LMU, scoring a career-high 16 points on 4-of-5 shooting from three-point range. Souza is connecting at a 57.9% (11-of-19) clip from long distance and ranks second in the Big West in three-point field goal percentage.
Another Split: For the third straight week, the Highlanders split their games as they lost a tough four-point decision against Loyola Marymount and hammered Abilene Christian by 20.
Anatomy Of A W: UC Riverside has shot 48 percent or better in all three of its wins. In three losses, the team has shot a combined 36.8% (63-of-171).
Double-Double: Junior Taylor Johns produced his 11th career double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds against Abilene Christian.
Balance Wins The Day: All five starters and six players in total scored in double figures in the Abilene Christian victory. Junior guard Steven Jones notched a career-high 16 points to lead all scorers in his first start of the season.
Rebounding Focus: After losing the rebounding battle 47-23 to Utah on Nov. 21, the Highlanders have refocused on the boards. Over their last three outings, the Highlanders have outrebounded their opponents by a combined margin of 132-75.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Productive Trip: UC Santa Barbara had a solid showing at the GCI Great Alaska Shootout, leaving Anchorage with a 2-1 record and an appearance in the tournament championship game. The Gauchos enjoyed a 28-point rout of Washington State and a 65-60 overtime win over Mercer, while coming up just short in a 65-63 loss to Colorado State.
Big Al Boards: Senior center Alan Williams is the nation’s rebounding leader with 13.5 per game through six games. After leading the nation in rebounding last year as well, “Big Al” needs seven more caroms to become UCSB’s all-time king in that category and surpass current record holder Eric McArthur (904, 1986-90). With 898 rebounds, Williams will become just the seventh player in Big West history to reach 900.
Stifling: UCSB picked up the Big West’s third win over a school from a Power 6 conference, holding Washington State to 22.8% shooting from the field for the game, including 9.1% (3-for-33) in the first half, in a resounding 71-43 win. It was the Big West’s first win over the Pac-12 this season.
Great Start: Playing eight games in the first 13 days of the season, Hawai‘i emerged from the fray with a 6-2 record. The Rainbow Warriors went 2-1 at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Florida last week, overcoming an opening game loss to San Francisco to defeat Marist and East Carolina for the consolation title.
Valdes On Point: Sophomore guard Aaron Valdes has emerged as a prime contributor for the ‘Bows as he has recorded double figures in points in five straight games. He had 10 points and a career-high 16 rebounds in the Marist win.
Ball Hawks: UH leads the Big West and is tied for No. 46 in the nation with 8.5 steals per game.
Island Fever: The ‘Bows embark on a stretch in which they will remain on the islands for nine of their next 10 games. The lone game away from the Stan Sheriff Center between now and Jan. 17 is a jaunt to Salt Lake City and Energy Solutions Arena, where UH will play BYU in a neutral court contest on Saturday.