Men's Hoops Features Three-Way Tie For First Place
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This Week In The Big West - January 26-February 1, 2015
Big West Composite Basketball Television Schedule
2014-15 Men's Basketball Release No. 12
Tied for first place with 4-1 records, Long Beach State, UC Davis and UC Irvine will be featured in television matchups this week on ESPNU, Prime Ticket and ESPN3.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
Got Their Number: Cal Poly improved to 5-1 at the Mott Athletics Center with a 68-49 victory over UC Riverside on Saturday. The Mustangs are 6-0 at home against the Highlanders since Joe Callero took over head coaching duties six years ago. UCR is the only winless Big West team against Cal Poly in the Mott Athletics Center.
Defensive Chokehold: Holding Cal State Fullerton to 55 points and UCR to 49 in a pair of Big West wins last week, the Mustangs have held eight straight opponents under the 60-point plateau. Cal Poly is 5-3 during that span.
A First For Awich: Junior forward Joel Awich produced his first career double-double against UCR with 11 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Awich joined fellow junior Brian Bennett as the only two Mustangs to record double-digit rebounding games this season.
Lucky Number Seven: Cal Poly has committed exactly seven turnovers in four of its last five contests.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Skid At Five: Cal State Fullerton lost its fifth in a row on the heels of a five-game winning streak after falling 68-49 to UC Santa Barbara on Saturday. At 0-5 in the Big West, that represents the worst conference start for the Titans since the 2001-02 campaign when that squad opened up 0-6.
Better Times Ahead?: Despite the recent struggles, Fullerton faces a more favorable stretch of schedule as five of its next seven games are inside the friendly confines of Titan Gym. CSF hosts Long Beach State Thursday on Prime Ticket in its lone game of the week.
McClellan Cleans The Glass: Senior Steve McClellan is snatching rebounds at a prodigous rate. The forward grabbed 12 boards in back-to-back contests versus Cal Poly and UCSB, giving him double digits in four of his last five and six of his last nine.
Johnson Scores: Junior Lanerryl Johnson had his fifth 20-point effort with 21 against UCSB.
Comes In Twos: CSUN’s first six conference games have spawned results that come in twos – two losses, two wins and two losses. The Matadors fell at home to UC Irvine and Long Beach State last week. CSUN hopes to continue the positive part of the pattern this week against Hawai‘i and UC Riverside.
Hicks Nears Big West Record: Senior Stephan Hicks is two short of the Big West record for most free throws made in a career. With 548 free throws made, Hicks is about to unseat Long Beach State’s Lucious Harris (549, 1989-93) from the top spot.
Tre Hale’s All-Around Game: Junior Tre Hale-Edmerson is one of the most versatile players in the Big West. Among active career leaders, the 6-9 forward/center is No. 6 in rebounds (492), No. 10 in assists (180), No. 4 in blocked shots (129) and No. 5 in steals (101).
Still The Leader: The nation’s leader in free throw percentage last year, CSUN remains as solid as ever at the line, sporting a Big West leading .766 (347-of-453) mark.
LONG BEACH STATE
Another Great Start: With Saturday’s 64-58 win over CSUN, Long Beach State has started Big West play 4-1 or better for the fourth time in the last five seasons under head coach Dan Monson. The 49ers have won five of their last six contests heading into Thursday’s showdown against Cal State Fullerton.
Caffey Approaches 1,500 Points: Senior Mike Caffey needs to score 17 more points to become just the eighth player in Long Beach State history to reach 1,500 for his career. His 14 points against CSUN enabled him to surpass former Chicago Bulls sharpshooter Craig Hodges for the No. 8 spot on the school’s all-time scoring list.
Chairman Of The Board: Senior David Samuels is averaging 12.0 rebounds over the last four games, punctuated by a career-high 16 caroms against CSUN.
De-Fense, De-Fense: During LBSU’s current three-game win streak, the 49ers have limited their foes to an average of 53 points and a combined 27.8 (47-of-169) percent shooting. LBSU ranks third in scoring defense (62.8 ppg) in conference games only.
First Setback: The Aggies lost their first Big West contest after a 4-0 start, dropping an 84-76 decision to hot shooting Hawai‘i in Honolulu Thursday. UC Davis succumbed despite shooting 52.3 (23-of-44) percent for the game.
Shooting Stars: UC Davis has shot 50 percent or better in 12 of its 18 games this season, and no worse than 44 percent in any game. The Aggies are connecting at an impressive conference-best 50.2 percent from the field.
Scoring Duo: Seniors Corey Hawkins and Josh Ritchart are the Big West’s highest scoring duo at a combined 32.5 points per game. They account for 45 percent of the Aggie offense.
Beware The Pavilion: UC Davis returns to The Pavilion this week to host a pair of important Big West games against UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. The latter game will be nationally televised on ESPNU. The Aggies drew 5,089 fans to their last ESPNU televised game – versus Long Beach State on Jan. 10. UC Davis is 8-0 this season at home and seeks to hit the 15-win mark for the first time as a Division I program.
Road Work: The Anteaters polished off a three-game roadtrip with a 3-0 record, knocking off CSUN and Hawai‘i last week, and moved into a three-way tie for first place in the Big West with Long Beach State and UC Davis.
The Benchmark For Success: UCI’s 80-49 victory over CSUN extended a string of success that dates back to the 2011-12 season. The Anteaters have won 39 straight games when holding their opponent to 60 points or less.
Accuracy: UCI utilized effective shooting to aid its 2-0 week, connecting at 50 percent or better on field goals in both games. The Anteaters have shot at least 50 percent in six of their last seven contests, and rank No. 2 in the Big West in field goal percentage (.483).
Davis II Nears 200 Blocks: Senior Will Davis II is six blocked shots away from reaching 200 for his career as he continues to extend his school record total. Davis II had six blocks through the first 10 games, but has stepped up his production with 14 over the last nine.
Home Briefly: In the midst of five of their next six on the road, the Highlanders return home for a brief respite, facing CSUN on Saturday. UC Riverside has lost four of its last five games.
For Three: UCR tied its season high with 11 made three-pointers in last Thursday’s loss at UC Santa Barbara.
Big Improvement: After ranking last among Big West squads in total three-pointers made (138) and three-point field goal percentage (.302) last season, the Highlanders have enjoyed a significant spike in production during the 2014-15 campaign. UCR’s 143 threes is third-best in the conference, and its .362 three-point percentage ranks No. 5.
Bland Continues Solid Play: Murray State transfer Jaylen Bland recorded his fourth 20-point game of the season with 21 points against UCSB. The 6-3 guard has scored in double figures in 17 of 20 games overall.
Quickie Stat: Senior Austin Quick has dished out 19 assists over the last three games, a 6.3 average. He had tallied 19 assists total in the previous 16 contests.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Troops Unite: Playing without leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker Alan Williams, out with a shoulder injury, UC Santa Barbara hunkered down and emerged with a pair of wins over UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton last week. UCSB faces a tough road this week against first place co-leaders UC Davis and UC Irvine.
Bryson Emerges From Slump: UCSB’s second-leading scorer at 13.1 points per game, Michael Bryson, was mired in a bit of shooting slump as he made just 6-of-19 (31.6%) during a three-game stretch. But Bryson found his touch last week, shooting 15-for-28 overall (53.6%) and averaging 19.5 points in the two wins. His 23 points against CSF represented his second-highest scoring output this season.
The Line Is Kind: Bryson has made 32 consecutive free throws dating back to Nov. 29, 2014 against Colorado State.
Breakout: After averaging under 60 points during a six-game stretch, UCSB rekindled its offense in the 83-75 victory over UC Riverside, with the 83 points representing the second-highest total against a D-I opponent this year.
Big Time Win: Hawai‘i toppled previously Big West unbeaten UC Davis, 84-76, getting nearly half of its scoring output – 38 points – off of 24 Aggie turnovers. UH forced 18 steals in the game, the third straight in which the team had collected 15 or more.
Don’t Turn Your Head: UH ranks No. 4 nationally in steals per game (10.3) this week. The Rainbow Warriors have registered double-digit steals in six of their last seven contests. With a total of 216 steals on the season, UH ranks third in NCAA Division I, behind only Minnesota (225) and West Virginia (238).
Bobbitt The Chief Thief: A centerpiece of UH’s defense is junior Roderick Bobbitt. The guard leads the Big West and is tied for No. 2 in the country with 3.0 steals per game. He is No. 2 nationally in total steals with 63, trailing only Virginia Commonwealth’s Briante Weber (70).
Pack Those Bags: UH embarks on a four-game conference roadtrip with meetings against CSUN and Long Beach State this week.