UC Davis Seeks Outright Championship
2014-15 Men's Basketball Release No. 17
Owners of a school Division I record 22 victories, UC Davis continues its magical run in search of the outright men's basketball regular season title, needing either one win or one UC Irvine loss to accomplish the goal.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
THIS WEEK IN THE BIG WEST
• The field is set for the 2015 Big West Men’s Basketball Tournament, the 40th annual event, which runs March 12-14 at Honda Center. Teams enter the final week of regular season play jockeying for seeding position. CSUN is the lone school locked into a seed. The Matadors will be the No. 8 seed when quarterfinal action at Honda Center begins on Thursday, March 12.
• First place UC Davis (22-4, 12-2) is just the third team in Big West history to go from last place to first place in a span of two seasons. The Aggies, who have earned at least a share of the regular season title, could become the first team in conference history to earn the OUTRIGHT crown after finishing last the previous season.
• After finishing 9-22 last season, UC Davis has enjoyed a +13 improvement in the win column. That ties for the fourth-best improvement in Big West history. The all-time greatest turnaround in league annals is +16.
• Hawai‘i needs one more win to record its second straight 20-win season.
• CSUN senior Stephan Hicks is closing in on becoming just the seventh player in Big West history to tally 2,000 career points. He is only 42 points away from reaching the milestone.
Déjà Vu?: Cal Poly has lost three straight headed into Saturday’s regular season finale at UC Santa Barbara. The Mustangs experienced a similar slump at the end of last season, having dropped three straight to close out the regular season slate, only to win three in a row and become the first No. 7 seed in Big West Tournament history to be crowned champion.
Captain Shipley: Sophomore Ridge Shipley is averaging 15.1 points over the last eight games since reentering the starting lineup. He posted his third 20-point game this season with a team-high 20 against UC Irvine.
Better Guard Him: Much of Shipley’s scoring damage has come from beyond the three-point line. He has made at least three treys in seven of the last eight games, and is shooting 40.0 percent (24-of-60) from distance during that span.
Consistency: The Mustangs have remained among the NCAA’s top five in fewest turnovers allowed all season long, and enter this week No. 2 at 9.0 per game. They only trail Wisconsin (7.5) among best protectors of the ball.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Stranded: For the first time since 2002, Cal State Fullerton will not be participating in the Big West Tournament. The Titans were eliminated from tournament contention after losing to CSUN and Long Beach State last week. CSF has made more tournament appearances (36) than any other school.
Harris Moves Up: Senior guard Alex Harris returned from injury last week to score 25 points in two games, lifting his career total to 1,166. That moved him into 12th place all-time at Cal State Fullerton, ahead of Gary Davis (1982-85) at 1,165.
Tough Outcome: The Titans displayed one of their best offensive games of the year in Thursday’s 82-72 loss to CSUN. They shot 49.1 (28-of-57) percent from the field and tied a season high with 17 assists.
Back To Harris: Harris will finish his Titan career in the top 10 for steals. He is currently No. 10 with 127, and with seven more over the next two games would pass Henry Turner, Chris St. Clair and Bruce Bowen on the list.
The Dream Is Alive: CSUN clinched the eighth and final spot in next week’s Big West Tournament with exceptional play in last week’s wins over Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside. Having scored no more than 74 points in any previous conference games, the Matadors turned in back-to-back 80-point showings to lock down the tournament’s No. 8 seed.
Hicks Zeroes In On 2,000: Senior Stephan Hicks inched closer to becoming just the seventh player in Big West history to score 2,000 career points. He enters this week with 1,958, and has a minimum of two games remaining to reach the milestone.
In The Meantime...: Hicks, who is No. 10 on the all-time Big West scoring list, should climb past Cal State Fullerton’s Bobby Brown (1,961, 2003-07) and Long Beach State’s Michael Wiley (1,962, 1977-80) for the eighth slot.
Maxwell Keeps It Coming: With 24 points and 13 rebounds against Cal State Fullerton, senior forward Stephen Maxwell logged his 41st career double-double.
LONG BEACH STATE
Back On Track: Long Beach State extinguished a five-game losing streak with a 70-47 victory against Cal State Fullerton on Saturday. It was the largest margin of victory in conference play this season for the 49ers.
Two More To Ten: The 49ers seek to reach the 10-win mark in Big West play for the fifth straight season, but must defeat CSUN at home and UC Riverside on the road to do so.
History Beckons: Senior Mike Caffey needs just 17 more rebounds over the remainder of the season to join Ed Ratleff as the only two players in 49er history with career numbers of 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists. Caffey is the program’s No. 5 all-time scorer with 1,608 points and is No. 3 with 445 assists.
Mr. Efficiency: In just 19 minutes against CSF, senior David Samuels registered his fifth double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Tightened Up: LBSU recorded an opponent scoring low for conference play in limiting CSF to 47 points.
History Awaits: UC Davis clinched a share of the Big West regular season title with Saturday’s win at Cal Poly. The magic number is one for the Aggies to win the title outright this week. A win over UC Riverside or UC Irvine at home would ensure that outcome.
Also On The Line: The Aggies are 12-0 on their home court this season, seeking to become the first Big West team to finish undefeated at home since Long Beach State (12-0) in 2011-12.
Three-Point Ace: Senior Corey Hawkins continues to lead the NCAA in three-point field goal percentage (.507), well ahead of the No. 2 player on that list – Longwood’s Quincy Taylor (.472).
Barometer Of Success: UC Davis is 9-0 this season when holding its opponent to 60 points or less.
Finding Their Rhythm: The Aggies recorded their top field goal percentage during conference play, shooting 55.8 (24-of-43) percent in Saturday’s win against Cal Poly.
Clear Picture: The Anteaters enter the final week of Big West play with a shot at claiming a share of the regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. To accomplish that, UCI must win its final two games, coupled with two UC Davis losses, and hope that Hawai‘i finishes ahead of Long Beach State in the standings.
Streak Broken: In falling at UC Santa Barbara last Saturday, 54-51, the Anteaters saw their streak of 46 consecutive wins when holding an opponent to 60 points or less come to an end. The streak had begun in December of 2011.
Where There’s A Will...: Senior Will Davis II enters the week with 795 career rebounds, just five shy from becoming the third player in UCI history to reach 800. He’s No. 10 on the Anteater career scoring list with 1,304 points and ranks No. 1 in history with 207 blocked shots.
Mamadou Returns: After missing 10 straight games with a foot injury, sophomore 7-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye paid immediate dividends in his return to the court against Cal Poly, producing 11 points and six rebounds in 14 minutes.
SRC Dominance: UC Riverside, owners of a school Division I record 12 home wins this season, looks to finish the schedule with a 13-2 record at the SRC Arena when Long Beach State visits on Saturday.
Highlanders Look To Tie Or Break Record: UC Riverside seeks to tie or break the program’s Division I record for most Big West wins this week. The 2008-09 club set the mark with an 8-8 record. This year’s Highlanders can match that standard by splitting their final two games, or eclipse it with wins at UC Davis and at home versus LBSU.
Johns Joins The 1,000-Point Club: Junior forward Taylor Johns became the 14th UC Riverside player – and the fifth in the Division I era – to collect 1,000 career points last week. Johns hit the milestone with his second-to-last point during a 21-point effort versus CSUN on Saturday.
Bland Extends Streak: Junior Jaylen Bland, a Murray State transfer and one of the leading candidates for Big West Newcomer of the Year, has scored in double figures in each of last 13 contests.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Gauchos Are Rolling: UC Santa Barbara has won six of its last seven games and owns sole possession of third place in the Big West standings. The lone blemish in that seven-game stretch was a two-point loss to UC Riverside. UCSB’s final road game is Thursday at Hawai‘i.
Thunder Dome Talk: The Gauchos improved to 11-2 at home with last week’s wins against UC Davis and UC Irvine, marking the sixth time in the last eight years that the program has accumulated double-digit victories in the Thunder Dome.
Big Al And The Double-Double: Senior Alan Williams recorded back-to-back double-doubles last week to extend his league-leading total to 13 this season. “Big Al” also leads all of Division I with a career total of 46 double-doubles.
Vincent For Three: With three treys against UC Davis on Thursday, guard Gabe Vincent moved up into a tie for second alongside teammate Michael Bryson for most three-pointers in a season (46) by a UCSB freshman. Vincent is chasing the record of 58 owned by Taran Brown from the 2012-13 season.
Twenty Twenty: Hawai‘i needs one more win to secure its second consecutive 20-win season. The Rainbow Warriors could reach that mark on Thursday at home against UC Santa Barbara or in Saturday’s road contest versus Cal State Fullerton.
Bobbitt Chases Record: Junior Roderick Bobbitt, the NCAA leader in steals with at least one in 27 straight games, is now at 94 for the season. That total puts him No. 4 in Big West single-season annals, as he aims to become just the fourth player in league history to accumulate 100 in a season. The all-time record of 106 steals also remains in reach.
Webster-Chan Emerges: Sophomore Negus Webster-Chan tallied a career-high 20 points thanks to a career-best tying six three-pointers in last week’s win against Long Beach State. The 6-7 guard is averaging 15.0 points over the last four contests.
Fifty Or Better Equals Good Outcomes: Hawai‘i improved to 7-0 on the season when shooting 50 percent or better after hitting at a 50.9 (27-of-53) percent clip against LBSU.