Cal Poly, Long Beach State To Battle Top 10 Opponents
2014-15 Men's Basketball Release No. 6
Highlighting this week's slate of games is a pair of road tilts as Cal Poly takes on No. 8 Gonzaga in the "Battle For Seattle" while Long Beach State battles No. 9 Texas.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
Streak Broken: Cal Poly snapped a 15-game non-conference road losing streak with a 78-71 triumph at San Francisco on Monday. Prior to that, the Mustangs last toppled a non-conference opponent on the road on Nov. 26, 2012 in a 70-68 upset of then-No. 11 UCLA.
Shot Makers: The Mustangs helped themselves in the victory over San Francisco by making a season-high 50.9% (27-of-53) on field goal attempts and tying their highest scoring output of the year with 78 points.
Nwaba Consistent: Junior David Nwaba notched a game-high 19 points in the win over USF, giving the wing his seventh straight game in double figures. The 19 points tied a season high.
Road Trip Continues: Cal Poly continues a seven-game roadtrip on Wednesday, opening up the 48th annual Cable Car Classic against Northeastern, before facing No. 8 Gonzaga in the Battle in Seattle at Key Arena Saturday.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Road “W” Welcome: Cal State Fullerton, which had gone 0-6 on the road this season and had lost eight straight true away matchups dating back to the 2013-14 season, knocked off Nevada 65-55 at Lawlor Events Center on Saturday. The 55 points scored was the second-fewest by a Titan foe this season.
Harris Creeps Closer To 1,000: Senior guard Alex Harris poured in 22 points versus Nevada, marking the third time in the last five games he has eclipsed the 20-point barrier. With 915 career points, Harris moved closer to becoming the 23rd player in Titan history to accumulate 1,000.
Valuing The Ball: The first road win of the year coincided with Fullerton’s lowest turnover total (9) all season.
Returning Home: The Titans prepare for their longest homestand of the season – four straight games – beginning Thursday against Cal State Dominguez Hills and continuing Monday against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. CSF is 1-1 at Titan Gym this season.
Cobwebs: CSUN returns to action after an 11-day hiatus to take finals, squaring off against Oregon in Eugene on Wednesday. The Matadors have lost eight straight non-conference road games dating back to last year. CSUN’s last non-league road win was against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 20, 2013.
Hicks On Cusp Of History: Senior Stephan Hicks, who is averaging a conference fourth-best 17.7 points per game, has scored 1,625 career points, tops among active Big West players. He is now within clear range of the school’s all-time leader – Brian Heinle, who scored 1,641 points from 1997-2001. Hicks could break the record in CSUN’s next game – at Oregon on Wednesday.
More Records Talk: Senior Stephen Maxwell also is eyeing a CSUN career record. With 789 career rebounds, Maxwell needs 19 more to break Jerry Joseph’s more than 40-year-old record of 807. Joseph played at CSUN from 1967-70. Maxwell has four games of 10 or more rebounds this season, including a season-high 13 versus UALR on Nov. 23.
LONG BEACH STATE
Oh So Close: Having already dispatched Kansas State and Xavier this season, Long Beach State came within a whisker of producing its third quality non-conference victory, but ultimately fell to then-No. 16 San Diego State by a 60-59 score on Dec. 10. The 49ers return from a nine-day layoff to play at No. 9 Texas Saturday.
Caffey For Three: Four three-pointers from Mike Caffey in the San Diego State game gave him a season mark of 24, fourth-best in the Big West, and increased his career total to 139. The guard now is tied for No. 8 in LBSU history with Tony Darden (2001-03) on the threes made list.
The Gauntlet: Beginning with last week’s battle against No. 16 San Diego State, the 49ers are in the midst of playing four of five games against ranked opponents – all on the road. They play No. 9 Texas, No. 20/23 St. John’s and No. 4 Louisville, with a game against unranked Syracuse thrown in for good measure.
Much Improved: LBSU is No. 2 in the Big West in three-point field goal percentage (.392), a huge improvement over last year’s eighth place ranking (.312).
Important Stretch: With the Aggies off to a 7-1 start, they embark on an crucial four-game roadtrip that will take them into the new year. The team heads first to the Rocky Mountains to face Air Force and then Northern Colorado, before trekking to the Evergreen State for encounters with Washington State and Seattle University.
Lucky Seven: Fueling much of the Aggie success is its efficiency from distance. UC Davis ranks first in the Big West and No. 22 nationally in three-point field goal percentage at 41.0% (66-of-161). The Aggies have hit no fewer than seven treys in all seven of their victories. Coincidentally, they’ve made exactly seven on five separate occasions.
Adenrele Improving: After missing the entire 2013-14 season with a knee injury, junior J.T. Adenrele has been hiking back up the comeback trail. He turned in his best offensive effort of the year the last time out, scoring a season-high 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting in a win over Eastern Illinois.
Baskets: UC Davis scored a season-high 80 points against Eastern Illinois.
Defensive Dropoff: Last season, UC Irvine was 16-0 when holding the opponents to less than 60 points. The Anteaters have allowed five of their last six opponents to score 70 points or better, resulting in a 2-4 record over that stretch.
Young Eyes No. 4 Spot In Assists: Junior point guard Alex Young enters this week with 331 career assists, just 11 shy from tying Aaron Fitzgerald (2004-06) for No. 4 in the UCI record book. Young has eight assists against just one turnover in his last two outings.
Ryan Produces: Starting in place of injured 7-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye, senior John Ryan is averaging 10.0 points on 70 percent (14-of-20) shooting in the last three games.
Frequent Fliers: UCI will play five road games in four different states over the next few weeks. The ‘Eaters take on Morgan State in Baltimore, Md. on Tuesday, before visiting the states of Nevada, Oregon and New Mexico.
Davis II Watch: Senior Will Davis II is No. 9 on the UCI career rebounds chart with 661, eight away from the No. 8 slot.
Great Effort: UC Riverside injected a bit of a scare into UCLA on Wednesday, leading the Bruins by eight at halftime and trailing by a basket with just 6:10 to play. But the Bruins responded with an 18-9 run to notch the 77-66 victory.
Bombs Away: The Highlanders set season-highs in the UCLA game for three-pointers made (11) and attempted (35)
Valuing The Ball: UCR also committed a season-low eight turnovers against UCLA. The Highlanders are averaging 13.3 turnovers per game on the season.
Scoring Streak: Junior forward Taylor Johns has scored in double figures in five straight games, and in seven of nine on the season. He’s averaging 18.0 points over his last five contests.
Third Across The Board: The Highlanders rank third in the Big West in all shooting categories – field goal percentage (.459), three-point field goal percentage (.378) and free throw percentage (.728). UCR’s efficiency from three is a marked improvement over last year’s .302 mark.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Worn Down: After early season trips that have taken the Gauchos to Kansas, Florida, Alaska and Texas, the comforts of home could not energize them in a 79-65 loss to San Diego at the Thunderdome last Thursday.
Block Party: Senior Alan Williams, a member of the “Watch List” for the prestigious Naismith Award, has received plenty of attention for his scoring and rebounding abilities, but he also has proven to be pretty adept at defending too. His season high seven blocked shots against San Diego inflated his career total to 202, which ranks No. 2 in UCSB history. He now trails only Eric McArthur (249, 1986-90) for the top spot. Williams already broke McArthur’s career rebounding record earlier this season.
Vincent Makes Impact: Freshman Gabe Vincent missed four games with a blister on his foot, but in the three games since his return he continues to produce off the bench. Vincent scored 11 points against Seattle, 15 versus SMU and 13 against San Diego, an average of 13.0. He’s also drained 10 three-pointers in that stretch, and ranks second on the team with 13 treys despite the missed time.
Well Rested: The Rainbow Warriors will have not played since Dec. 6 against BYU when they return to the court this Friday against Chaminade at Blaisdell Arena. It’s a tuneup for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, which begins for UH on Monday versus Nebraska.
Valdes Solid: Primarily a bench player in 2013-14, guard Aaron Valdes has become one of the more productive players in the Big West his sophomore season. He ranks No. 5 in the Big West in scoring (16.2 ppg), and No. 4 in both rebounding (7.4 rpg) and field goal percentage (.586). He has scored double-digit points in seven straight games.
Bobbitt A Welcome Addition: Junior Roderick Bobbitt, a transfer from the junior college ranks, has taken over the starting point guard job with aplomb. He leads the conference in both assists (5.7 apg) and steals (2.8 spg), and he’s the nation’s only player so far this season with a triple-double – 12 points, 10 assists and 10 steals versus Hawaii-Hilo.
They Shoot, They Score: The ‘Bows rank atop the Big West in offense, averaging 72.9 points per game.