CSUN Hosts UC Irvine, Long Beach State On ESPN3
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This Week In The Big West - January 19-25, 2015
2014-15 Men's Basketball Release No. 11
CSUN has a prime opportunity to vault toward the top of the Big West men's basketball standings this week, hosting UC Irvine and Long Beach State on ESPN3.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
Small Slide: The Mustangs have lost three straight close conference games after winning the Big West opener at Hawai‘i. Cal Poly fell by two at Long Beach State and seven at CSUN to drop to 1-3 in the conference. Looking to reverse fortunes, Cal Poly hosts Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside this week.
Offense Needed: The Mustangs have scored below the 50 point mark in all three losses, averaging 47.0 points during that span. Cal Poly ranks last in the Big West in scoring offense with 59.9 points per game.
Bennett Hits Career High: Junior forward Brian Bennett notched a career-high 14 rebounds against CSUN, the second time in the last three games he has corralled 10 or more in a game.
Protect The Ball: Cal Poly continues to demonstrate an ability to limit its turnovers, committing just seven against LBSU and six versus CSUN last week. The Mustangs have committed single-digit turnovers in 11 of 16 games.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Tough Start: The Titans fell to 0-3 in Big West play with losses at home last week to UC Irvine and UC Davis. Cal State Fullerton has not started 0-4 in Big West play since the 2001-02 season when it began 0-6 overall. The three-game skid comes right after CSF had a five-game winning streak prior to the start of Big West play.
Harris Goes For 20 Again: Senior Alex Harris recorded his seventh 20-point game of the season – third in the last six games – with exactly 20 versus UC Davis on Saturday. He is tied for third in the Big West for most 20-point games.
McClellan Cleans The Glass: Senior Steve McClellan yanked down 10 rebounds against UC Irvine for his fifth double-digit rebounding performance of the season. All five efforts have taken place in the last 10 games. He is tied for third in the Big West in that category.
Road Improvement Needed: CSF is 1-7 on the road this season heading into next week’s road matchups.
Turnaround: CSUN responded from an 0-2 start with a pair of solid victories against Central Coast cohorts UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. The 48 points allowed to the Mustangs represented a season-low by a Matador opponent, helping CSUN avenge last year’s loss in the Big West Tournament championship game.
Comeback Kids: CSUN won for the first time this season after trailing at halftime, overcoming a slim two-point deficit to Cal Poly.
Field Goal Record Holder: Senior Stephan Hicks became CSUN’s career record holder for field goals made with 594 after hitting 5-of-9 from the field against Cal Poly. He broke the record of 590 held by Brian Heinle (1997-01).
Double-Double Ordered: Senior Stephen Maxwell posted 21 points and 10 rebounds against Cal Poly for his eighth double-double of the season and 37th of his career. Maxwell has five double-doubles in his last nine outings, and has scored in double figures in each of the last nine.
LONG BEACH STATE
One By One: Long Beach State went 2-0 at home last week, including a win over UC Santa Barbara. The 49ers have now defeated the teams picked to finish first (UC Irvine) and second (UCSB) in the preseason media poll.
Caffey Climbs: With 22 points against UC Santa Barbara, senior Mike Caffey tallied his eighth 20-point game of the season and moved into ninth place on the LBSU career scoring list with 1,469. Caffey is just eight points short of catching NBA alum Craig Hodges for the No. 8 spot.
Samuels Stepping It Up: Two double-digit rebounding performances in the last three games from senior David Samuels has provided the 49ers a strong presence inside. Samuels registered his second double-double of the year with 15 points and 10 rebounds in the UCSB win. Over the last three games, he is averaging 10.7 boards.
WATCH: David Samuels post-game interview on ESPN3
Defense Stiffens: In the two games last week, LBSU stifled Cal Poly and UCSB to the tune of a combined 27.8 percent (32-of-115) shooting. Both teams managed to record just 16 field goals in each game.
Full Steam Ahead: UC Davis knocked off UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton on the road last week and either set or tied program highs in the process. The Aggies are off to a 4-0 Big West start for the first time, and have tied Division I highs for highest total of victories (14) and most road wins (6). UC Davis is riding a five-game winning streak.
Record Pace: The Aggies lead the Big West in three-pointers made (153) and the nation in three-point field goal percentage (.441). They are averaging nine made threes per game, and at that pace are on their way to breaking the school’s single-season mark of 257, set recently in 2012-13.
Next Up: Senior Corey Hawkins tops the Big West with nine 20-point contests, including in three straight. He has scored 28, 26 and 26 points in those games, respectively. The 6-3 guard leapfrogged two Aggies to move into the No. 4 spot on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,443 points.
Island Fever: The last two times Hawkins played at Hawai‘i, this week’s Aggie opponent, he scored 40 (1/19/13) and 29 points (2/22/14).
Back To Work: The Anteaters will have had exactly one week of rest when they return to action Thursday at CSUN in a game that will be aired on ESPN3. UC Irvine seeks its first three-game winning streak this season.
The Benchmark For Success: Holding its last two opponents to 55 and 58 points, respectively, UC Irvine extended a string of success that dates back to the 2011-12 season. The Anteaters are 38-0 when holding their opponent to 60 points or less. The last time they allowed 60 or less and lost was on Dec. 13, 2011 at Wyoming (58-48).
Looking For Full Strength: UC Irvine has contested 12 straight games without two of their top players – sophomores Luke Nelson and Mamadou Ndiaye – on the court at the same time. The Anteaters are 6-6 during that span. Nelson has missed a total of six games while Ndiaye has been sidelined for 10.
Davis II Bringing The Offense: Senior Will Davis II had his second 20-point effort in the last four games, notching 21 versus Cal State Fullerton on 7-of-10 shooting last Thursday.
All Even: UC Riverside pulled even in Big West play at 2-2 thanks to a come-from-behind 66-62 victory against Hawai‘i on Saturday. The Highlanders improved to 3-4 in games decided by five points or less. UCR now embarks on an important stretch with five of its next six conference games are on the road.
Thornton With Career-Best: Senior Steven Thornton notched a career-high 22 points in the Hawai‘i win. He knocked down 12 of 13 from the free throw line as the Highlanders shot 78.6 (22 of 28) at the stripe for the game.
Dynamic Duo: Junior Taylor Johns and Jaylen Brand have combined to average 31.0 points per game, making them the most prolific scoring duo in school history. The tandem of Nate Carter and Vili Morton averaged 27.6 points together during the 2003-04 season.
Vying For Best Start: At 9-9, UC Riverside is enjoying its best 18-game start since the 2008-09 club opened up 11-7. That club finished 17-13 overall, with the 17 wins representing a program Division I record.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Right The Ship: The Gauchos dropped two conference games to CSUN and Long Beach State last weekend to fall to 1-2 in Big West play. UC Santa Barbara lost for the fourth time in the last five years on its home floor to the Matadors. UCSB looks to regain momentum this week against UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton at home.
Z-Harmony: In 2013-14, point guard Zalmico Harmon ranked No. 2 in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio at +4.64. This season, Harmon sports a +2.8 ratio with 67 assists against just 24 turnovers. While he has not replicated last year’s pace from an overall standpoint, Harmon’s last six games more closely resemble last season’s production. Over than span, Harmon has dished out 30 assists against five turnovers.
The Good And The Bad: In the loss to Long Beach State, the Gauchos committed a season-low four turnovers but also shot a season-low 25.0 (16-of-64) percent from the field.
Offensive Boost: UCSB is averaging 59.5 points over its last six games, well below its season average (67.8 ppg).
Two Tough Ones: The Rainbow Warriors lost their second close game of the conference ledger, falling 66-62 to UC Riverside on Saturday. Hawai‘i also lost by four in overtime to Cal Poly in Jan. 7 Big West opener. UH is 3-3 in games decided by five points or less this year.
Don’t Turn Your Head: A top 10 team nationally in steals per game, Hawai‘i lived up to its billing against UC Riverside, finishing with 15 steals, its third-highest total in a game this season. UH had tied a program single-game record one game before with 20 steals versus CSUN.
Jankovic Makes An Impact: Since becoming eligible to play on Dec. 22 against Nebraska, 6-11 forward Stefan Jankovic has elevated his game. He scored a career-high 15 points against CSUN in 14 reserve minutes on Jan. 10, then made his first career start Saturday at UC Riverside and set another best with 17 points.
Something’s Gotta Give: UH has the most home wins (10) while UC Davis sports the most road wins (6) of all Big West teams – and the two meet in Honolulu on Thursday.