Big West Rings In New Year With Final Non-Conference Stretch
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This Week In The Big West - December 29, 2014-January 4, 2015
2014-15 Men's Basketball Release No. 8
Big West men's basketball squads make their final preparations for league play with a slew of non-conference contests through the New Year and into the weekend.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
Winding Down: Cal Poly’s seven-game roadtrip is coming to a close, but first the Mustangs must contest one more non-conference affair as they play at IPFW on Tuesday. Cal Poly has won its last two true road games against San Francisco and Santa Clara.
Share The Ball: In its last outing, Cal Poly tied a season high with 17 assists in a 69-58 win at Santa Clara. The Mustangs also posted a season-best 53.3 (8-of-15) three-point field goal percentage in the victory.
Bench Mob: Led by 11 points each from Reese Morgan and Ridge Shipley, the Mustang reserves (34) almost outscored the starters (35) against Santa Clara.
Nwaba Keeps It Going: Junior wing David Nwaba’s 10 points in the Santa Clara game gave him double-digits in scoring in all 10 appearances this season. He has led the Mustangs in scoring five times, and ranks No. 9 in the Big West in scoring (14.9 ppg). He’s also efficient, with his 54.5% (55-of-101) field goal rate fifth-best in the conference.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Make That Three: Cal State Fullerton extended its winning streak to three straight with an 82-77 triumph over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. It’s the longest winning streak for the program since notching four straight from Dec. 13-29, 2012. CSF seeks to keep the streak going against Cal State East Bay on Tuesday.
Harris Creeps Closer To 1,000: Senior guard Alex Harris dropped 29 points on Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, his fifth 20-point game of the season, and moved within 40 points of becoming the 23rd player in school history to reach the 1,000-point career mark. Harris is averaging 20.1 points over the last seven games.
McDouble: With 10 points and 10 rebounds against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, senior Steve McClellan posted a double-double for the second straight game and third in the last five outings.
Freebie Talk: The Titans shot a season-high 82.8 (24-of-29) percent at the free throw line in their last win.
Reverse Fortunes: CSUN lost its fourth straight game and for the ninth time in its last 10 after falling to Stephen F. Austin, 61-57, on Monday. The Matadors look to build some momentum heading into Big West play as they host Morgan State in their final non-conference matchup on Friday.
Heavy Workload: The shorthanded Matadors have been forced to lean even more heavily on their senior duo of Stephan Hicks and Stephen Maxwell. The tandem has accounted for 457 of the team’s 905 points, or 50.5 percent of the total offense. Hicks is No. 4 in the Big West in scoring at 17.5 points per game, while Maxwell ranks No. 8 (15.1 ppg).
Exceptional: CSUN, which led the nation in free throw percentage (.791) last season, has resumed its prowess from the stripe. The Matadors are atop the Big West and rank in the top 15 nationally while shooting 76.2 percent this season.
Random Stat: CSUN is 3-0 this season when scoring 70 points or more.
LONG BEACH STATE
More To The Story: The 49ers have lost five straight on their current ruthless six-game roadtrip, but they have led in the second half in each of the last four games against No. 16 San Diego State, No. 9 Texas, No. 17 St. John’s and Syracuse. Long Beach State closes out its trip on Tuesday against No. 5 Louisville.
McKnight Steps Up: Making his first start since Nov. 23 at UCLA, senior Eric McKnight had his best game as a 49er with 14 points on 6-for-6 shooting against Syracuse. He also saw his second-longest floor stint of 27 minutes, topped only by the 29 minutes he played against Kansas State.
Caffey Nears 400 Assists: Senior Mike Caffey is nine assists shy of 400 for his career. Only six previous 49ers have eclipsed that mark. Caffey also seeks to become just the fifth player in school history with 1,000 career points and 400 assists.
Caffey For Three: Caffey is No. 8 in LBSU career history with 146 made three-pointers. He is 10 away from tying James Cotton (1993-97) and Rod Hannibal (1991-94) for the sixth spot.
History Met: UC Davis matched the best start in school history with last Monday’s 73-63 defeat of Northern Colorado. The Aggies moved to 9-1, equalling the start of the 1997-98 Division II national championship squad.
Hawkins On Fire: Senior Corey Hawkins leads the Big West and is the nation’s No. 13 scorer at 20.9 points per game. The guard posted his sixth 20-point performance of the year with 29 against Washington State. Hawkins has accounted for 30 percent of the team’s total offense through 11 games.
Hawkins Moves Into Top 10: Having scored in double figure in all 11 games this season, Hawkins climbed into the No. 10 spot in UC Davis career history with 1,338 points. He’s two points away from taking over ninth place and nine shy of the No. 8 slot.
Three-Point Efficiency: UC Davis hit on a season-best 56.2 (9-of-16) percent from three-point range against Washington State. The Aggies top the conference and rank No. 15 nationally in three-point field goal percentage at 41.1%.
Tough Luck: Playing without two of its top performers in Luke Nelson and Mamadou Ndiaye, UC Irvine nearly pulled off the road upset of Oregon, falling 69-67 in overtime. The Anteaters fell to 1-3 this season in games decided by five points or less.
Young Moves Up In Assists: With 14 assists in the last two games, junior point guard Alex Young is now No. 4 in UCI history with 349 career helpers. Former great Jerry Green (1998-2002) is next up on the list at 412.
Alma Mater Coming To Town: UCI hosts Hampden-Sydney, the alma mater of Anteater head coach Russell Turner, in a New Year’s Eve matinee on Wednesday. The school’s all-time scoring leader with 2,272 points, Turner graduated Hampden-Sydney in 1992.
Davis II Watch: Senior Will Davis II is eyeing membership to a limited club as far as rebounding is concerned. He seeks to become just the sixth player in UCI history to accumulate 700 career rebounds. Davis II currently has 679.
Strong Finish: Winners of four of its last six contests, UC Riverside seeks to win its final game of 2014 on Tuesday as it hosts Morgan State. The Highlanders have won four straight at home and are 5-1 at the SRC Arena this season.
The Comforts Of Home: There’s a clear distinction in UC Riverside’s shooting prowess home versus away. In six home games, the Highlanders are shooting 52.3% (172-of-329) overall and 46.3% (50-of-108) from three-point range. The numbers drop to 34.1% (95-of-279) and 24.7% (24-of-97) through five road games.
Corraling The Caroms: Junior Taylor Johns registered his fourth double-digit rebounding effort of the season with 11 against No. 23 San Diego State last Monday.
Feast Or Famine: After playing in 16 games decided by five points or less last season, the Highlanders have been involved in just three such contests this year. The other eight games have finished with margins of 10 or more points. Fortunately, UCR has come out on the positive end (5-3) of those games.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Heartbreaker: Tough schedule. Five states. A total of 22,000 airline miles. And another heartbreaker of a loss. Last Monday, UC Santa Barbara had Oregon of the Pac-12 Conference on the ropes, leading 71-70 with 15 seconds remaining, but the Ducks tied the score and eventually won in overtime, 82-78. It was UCSB’s third overtime loss of the season – the Gauchos similarly had Florida Gulf Coast (Nov. 17) and SMU (Dec. 8) pinned against the ropes.
Big Al Continues To Roll: Senior Alan Williams notched his seventh double-double of the season – and the 40th of his career – with 26 points and 12 rebounds against Oregon. The 6-7 center also made a season-high 10 field goals.
Bryson In Rhythm: Junior Michael Bryson poured in 21 points against Oregon for his fifth straight game scoring in double figures.
That’s Strange: UCSB ranks No. 2 in the Big West in free throw percentage (.747), but has taken the fewest attempts (174) of any conference school, and that’s with Williams and his 550 career attempts in the lineup.
Impressive Run: Hawai‘i made more national waves with a third-place finish at last week’s Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. Having already defeated Pittsburgh of the Atlantic Coast Conference earlier this season, the Rainbow Warriors handed Nebraska (Big 10) and Colorado (Pac-12) losses while nearly upsetting then-No. 11 Wichita State.
Fleming All-Tournament: Freshman Isaac Fleming made solid contributions to the overall success of the ‘Bows last week as he earned a spot on the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic All-Tournament Team. He averaged 15.0 points and shot 62.1 percent (18-of-29) over the three games. The 6-3 guard had 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals off the bench in the win over Colorado.
Balanced: The Rainbow Warriors appear to be perhaps the most balanced offensive team in the Big West. Six players average at least 8.0 points per game, while sophomore Aaron Valdes continues to be UH’s “go-to” scorer as he sits at No. 7 in the Big West with 15.5 ppg.
On A Run: UH has won seven of its last nine games.