Top Two Men's Basketball Clubs Make Trip To Central Coast
2014-15 Men's Basketball Release No. 16
UC Davis looks to inch closer to its first ever Big West regular season title, UC Irvine is still in contention for its second straight crown, and Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara seek to disrupt either school's plan during the penultimate week of the men's basketball schedule.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
THIS WEEK IN THE BIG WEST
• First place UC Davis (21-4, 11-1) can take another step toward the program’s first Big West regular season championship with a successful trip to UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. The Aggies lead second place UC Irvine by two games with four left to play.
• UC Davis is the third team in Big West history to improve from single-digit wins one season to 20 the next. The other two teams to accomplish that feat – Utah State in 1981-82 (4-23) and to 1982-83 (20-90, and Fresno State in 1976-77 (7-20) to 1977-78 (21-6). In addition, UC Davis is 12 wins better than last season, and the +12 improvement ranks as sixth-best in Big West history. The all-time greatest turnaround in league history is +16.
• In a streak that goes back four-plus years, UC Irvine has won 45 straight games when holding an opponent to 60 points or less.
• Seven schools already have qualified for the Big West Tournament at Honda Center from March 12-14, leaving the one remaining spot to a battle between CSUN and Cal State Fullerton. The two foes square off against each other in Northridge on Thursday. A CSF win gives the Titans a season sweep over the Matadors and a crucial tiebreaker advantage. The Matadors would go up by two in the win column with a triumph over the Titans.
Tough Setbacks: Cal Poly dropped to 1-5 in Big West games decided by five points or less after losing 48-44 at UC Riverside on Saturday night. The Mustangs have lost seven conference games by a combined total of 34 points.
Morgan’s The Man: Super sub Reese Morgan led the Mustangs with a season-high 21 points in last Thursday’s 65-54 win against Cal State Fullerton. The junior guard leads all Big West reserves in scoring during conference games only, averaging 12.2 points per game. Morgan is averaging 15.3 points over his last seven outings.
That’s Impressive: To emphasize the importance of Morgan’s contributions off the bench, consider that he has outscored the ENTIRE opponent’s bench himself SEVEN times during Big West play.
Shipley Strong: Since reentering the starting lineup six games ago, sophomore guard Ridge Shipley is averaging 14.2 points with double-digit scoring performances in five of them.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Huge Game On Tap: Cal State Fullerton’s hopes for a Big West Tournament bid come down to Thursday’s showdown at CSUN. The Titans – 1-11 in Big West play – trail the Matadors (2-11) by a half-game in the standings. While a loss does not eliminate them from tournament contention, the Titans would be forced to win their last three games to have any shot of getting in.
On The Other Hand...: Should CSF defeat CSUN, it would give the Titans a season sweep over the Matadors and the key tiebreaker in the event both teams had identical records to end the regular season. The Titans look to sweep the season series for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign. CSF has won nine of the last 11 meetings in Northridge.
Solid Effort: Despite a 65-54 loss to Cal Poly last Thursday, the Titans shot a season-high 54.5 percent (24-of-44) from the field.
Lanerryl’s Land: Junior Lanerryl Johnson has scored in double figures in four straight games, and has led or co-led the team in scoring in three of them.
Streak Snapped: CSUN halted its eight-game losing streak with a resounding 89-61 victory over Bethesda University on Tuesday. However, the Matadors also dropped their ninth consecutive Big West decision when they fell at UC Irvine, 67-58, on Saturday.
Hicks Enters Big West Top 10 For Scoring: Senior Stephan Hicks supplanted Cal Poly’s Mike Wozniak (1996-00) from the Big West career top 10 scoring list with his 16-point performance on Saturday. Hicks, who enters this week with 1,916 career points, moved past Wozniak’s 1,903 total. Next up for Hicks is Cal State Fullerton’s Bobby Brown (2003-07), who scored 1,961 points during a four-year career.
Hicks Continues Quest For 2,000: Sitting 84 points away from becoming the seventh player in Big West history to score 2,000 career points, Hicks needs to average 21.0 points over the next four games, and that assumes the Matadors play a minimum of one game in the conference tournament.
LONG BEACH STATE
Cleanse The Wound: Long Beach State’s losing streak reached four straight games for the first time since year one of the Dan Monson era, following Thursday’s home setback to first place UC Davis. It is the longest conference skid for the 49ers since the 2007-08 club finished with five consecutive league losses.
Caffey Climbs Steals Chart: With at least one steal in 16 straight games, senior Mike Caffey’s two swipes in the UC Davis game pushed his career total to 171, tying him with Ron Johnson (1998-02) for fifth place in 49er history.
Thievery: The 49ers established a season-high for steals against UC Davis with 13 as six different players finished with two apiece.
Island Fever: At 7-5 and tied for third place in the Big West standings, LBSU faces an important test on Thursday at Hawai‘i as the 49ers jockey for an upper division finish. LBSU has won four of the last five games against the ‘Bows.
Offensive Boost: LBSU has scored under 60 points in four consecutive contests.
Rolling: Winners of seven straight and 12 of its last 13 games, UC Davis is up two games in the standings on UC Irvine for the regular season title and No. 1 seed in the Big West Tournament.The Aggies have won 10 of their last 11 games and are now 19-4 overall and 8-1 in the Big West.
Streak Chatter: The seven game winning streak is the longest in the program’s Division I history. It is the longest overall since the 2003-04 squad won seven straight on the Division II level.
They Did It: Two wins last week cemented a 20-win season for the Aggies. In doing so, they became just the third team in Big West history to transition from single-digit wins one season to 20 the next. Utah State was the last to do so – 4-23 in 1981-82 to 20-9 in 1982-83. The Aggies were 9-22 last season.
Milestone Trey: In setting a UC Davis single-game record with nine three-pointers in Saturday’s win over Hawai‘i, senior Tyler Les collected his 200th career trey on his final make of the night, giving the Aggies the lead for good.
Chasers: The Anteaters have won nine of their last 11 games heading into the stretch run of conference play, and trail first place UC Davis by two games. UCI, 4-1 in Big West road contests, heads up to the Central Coast this week to battle Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara in hopes of staying in contention for its second straight regular season crown.
The Reinforcements: UC Irvine’s bench has performed admirably of late, scoring 20 or more points in each of the last three games. Led by Jaron Martin’s game-high 19 points against CSUN, the Anteater bench accounted for 30 of the team’s 67 points in the win.
Davis II Keeping It Coming: Senior Will Davis II recorded back-to-back double-doubles last week, his third and fourth of the season, puncuated by season highs of 24 points and 14 rebounds against Hawai‘i.
Streak Still Going: In two wins last week, the Anteaters stretched their streak to 45 straight wins when holding the opponent to 60 points or less. It’s a streak that dates back to Dec. 13, 2011 at Wyoming.
SRC Dominance: UC Riverside set a program Division I record for most home wins in a season after defeating UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly last week at SRC Arena. The Highlanders are 12-2 on their home court, bettering the 11-2 mark the 2008-09 team sported,
Three And Counting?: The Highlanders take a three-game winning streak into Saturday’s game at CSUN. It is the first three-game win streak since the 2011-12 season for the Highlanders. UCR’s last four-game win streak also occurred during the 2011-12 season.
Johns Approaches 1,000 Point Club: Junior forward Taylor Johns crept within 20 points of becoming the 14th Highlander – and just the fifth in the Division I era - to reach 1,000 career points. Johns recorded the ninth 20-point game of the season with 21 against UCSB on Thursday.
Block Party: With one block against Cal Poly, Johns moved into a tie for 10th place in the Big West career record book with 146, alongside UNLV’s Elmore Spencer (1990-92). He needs just four more to slide into the No. 8 slot.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Big Week Ahead: Tied for third with Long Beach State at 7-5, UC Santa Barbara returns home this week to battle the top two teams in the Big West standings in UC Davis and UC Irvine. The Gauchos own a 9-2 home record this season, and are aiming to win 10 games in the Thunderdome for the sixth time in the last eight seasons.
Big Al Returns: After a seven-game absence to nurse a shoulder injury, senior Alan Williams returned to the lineup last week. He immediately paid dividends with his conference-high tying 11th double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds against UC Riverside.
Vincent Hits Career-High: The Gauchos enjoyed their largest margin of victory in a road game this season – 15 points – behind a career-high 19 points from freshman Gabe Vincent. The guard made 8-of-9 floor shots, including a trio of three-pointers. He has made at least one trey in 11 straight games.
Protect The Ball: UCSB is averaging just nine turnovers over its last four contests.
Gearing Up: Hawai‘i seeks to avoid its first three-game losing streak of the season when it hosts Long Beach State on Thursday. The ‘Bows are tied for sixth in the Big West at 6-7 and chasing several teams for an upper division finish.
Jankovic’s World: Playing a career-high 31 minutes in back-to-back games against UC Irvine and UC Davis last week, sophomore Stefan Jankovic produced a career-high 18 points against the Anteaters, and bettered that mark with 21 versus the Aggies. He added a career-best 15 rebounds against UCI to secure his first collegiate double-double.
Bobbitt Chases Record: Junior Roderick Bobbitt, the NCAA leader in steals with at least one in 26 straight games, added three more last week to up his season total to 91. That tied him for No. 4 all-time in Big West single-season history, alongside New Mexico State’s Randy Brown (1989-90). With a minimum of four games remaining, Bobbitt is within range of eclipsing the record of 106 steals.
Two More To Go: Hawai‘i needs two more victories to cement its second straight 20-win season.