Thanksgiving Week Features Feast of Hoops Games
2015-16 Men's Basketball Release No. 3
UC Irvine and Hawai‘i are off to 4-0 starts, with seven of the nine conference schools sporting above .500 records in men's hoops. The Anteaters take part this week in the DIRECTV Wooden Legacy, joining a field that includes No. 3 Michigan State and No. 10 Arizona.
Successful Trip: Cal Poly returned from last weekend’s roadtrip as champions of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational Regional Round after toppling Austin Peay and UMBC. The Mustangs return home for the next three games, beginning with Antelope Valley on Saturday.
Offense Found: Prior to the season, head coach Joe Callero promised the Mustangs would focus on becoming a more uptempo team. So far, they have. Cal Poly has exceeded the 70-point mark in all five games. In 2014-15, the team scored 70 or more seven times for the entire season.
From Distance: Cal Poly has had a couple of impressive performances from three-point range, including 15 makes against UMBC. The Mustangs shot a sizzling percentage of .556 in hitting those 15 threes.
Sheading The Freshman Moniker: True freshman Jaylen Shead, after an 0-for-5 performance in his collegiate debut, has hit 13 of 16 field goal attempts in the last four games.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Back-To-Back: Cal State Fullerton dispatched its second consecutive WCC opponent with Saturday’s 12-point victory over San Diego. The Titans scored 20 points off of 19 Torero turnovers, and committed just nine miscues themselves.
Home Opener Extraordinaire: The triumph over San Diego represented the 12th straight season that the Titans won their home opener.
Effective Minutes: Freshman Khalil Ahmad has scored in double figures in two of his first three collegiate games, including 11 points on 3-of-3 three-point shooting against San Diego.
Terrific Transfers: The two Division I transfers for the Titans, Tre’ Coggins (Air Force) and Malcolm Brooks (Pepperdine) have been as good as advertised. The duo has tallied 87 of the team’s 218 points, or 40 percent of the total offense. Coggins ranks seventh in the Big West in scoring (15.0 ppg) while Brooks is tied for 10th (14.0).
Chugging Along: CSUN is 2-3 following Monday night’s 96-61 loss at USC, the fourth time in five games the Matadors have played away from home. They continue their roadtrip this week with contests against non-conference local foes Loyola Marymount and UCLA.
Richardson Leads: Freshman Jason Richardson continues to play well as he posted his fifth straight game with double-digit points, scoring a team-high 18 against USC. It was the second time he has led the Matadors in scoring. Richardson ranks No. 5 in the Big West with 16.4 points per game.
Order That A Double-Double: Olalekan Ajayi, a senior transfer from Eastern Michigan, recorded his second consecutive double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds against USC. He had 17 points and 12 boards versus Vanguard in the previous outing.
Steals Watch: The Matadors came up with a season-high nine steals against the Trojans.
LONG BEACH STATE
Good Showing: Long Beach State went 1-2 at the Gildan Charleston Classic, but knocked off a Big East opponent in Seton Hall and went down to the wire against Big 12 foe Oklahoma State before losing by five points. The 49ers travel to Oklahoma State for a Friday rematch.
Great Start: The win over Seton Hall gave LBSU its first 3-0 start since the 1993-94 campaign.
Faust First Impression: Maryland transfer Nick Faust has had a positive impact on the 49ers through five games. The senior has scored in double figures in all five and had a team-high 16 points in the Seton Hall win. Over the last three games, he also is shooting 10-for-20 (50%) from three-point range. He has canned two or more treys on four occasions, including a 4-for-7 effort against Seton Hall.
Monson Watch: The Seton Hall victory tied LBSU head coach Dan Monson with Utah State’s Rod Tueller for No. 14 in Big West history on the career wins list with 138. Next up on the chart is San Jose State’s Bill Berry, who occupies the No. 13 slot with 142 victories.
Nice Rebound: After a disappointing season-opening overtime loss to North Dakota State, UC Davis rebounded with a pair of solid double-digit wins over Portland and Fresno Pacific. The Aggies look to continue their momentum with the first of two games this season against Causeway Cup rival Sacramento State on Tuesday.
Conference Leaders: The Aggies are home to a pair of players leading the Big West in two major categories. Senior Josh Fox is tied for the league’s scoring lead at 17.3 points per game, while junior center Neal Monson tops the circuit in rebounding (10.3 rpg).
More On Monson: A big reason Monson leads the Big West in rebounding is his career-high 15-board performance against Portland. He became the first Aggie since J.T. Adenrele on March 2, 2013 to accomplish the feat.
Rebounding Recourse: The Aggies have proven to be one of the nation’s top rebounding clubs in the early going of the 2015-16 season. Entering the week, they rank No. 4 among Division I teams in defensive rebounds per game (38.7).
Historic Figure: UC Irvine blasted Santa Clara by a 79-61 score on Monday, improving to 4-0 on the season. It represents the program’s best start in 33 years since the 1982-83 team opened 5-0. The Anteaters look to match that mark when they open the DIRECTV Wooden Legacy on Thanksgiving Day against Boise State.
Threes A Plenty: Junior Luke Nelson scored 20 points against Santa Clara on an efficient 6-for-8 shooting, including 4-of-5 from long distance. The four threes gave him 131 for his career, tying him with Chris McNealy (2010-14) for No. 12 in school history. Nelson is just four treys shy of entering the UCI top-10.
Defensive Pride: UCI has allowed its last three opponents to score 53, 60 and 61 points, respectively, and the team is the Big West standard bearer for defense. The Anteaters have yielded a league-low 61.8 points per game to foes.
Inching Closer: With 144 career blocked shots, junior Mamadou Ndiaye is just four short of tying Utah State’s Nate Wickizer (1991-95) for the No. 10 spot in Big West history.
So Close: Seeking its first 3-0 start since the 1996-97 season, UC Riverside had the result in hand with a 57-52 lead over San Francisco with 43 seconds to play. But the Dons scored the final six points to steal the victory, helped overall by a 21-5 advantage in free throw attempts.
Thames Making His Case: Junior Malik Thames scored all 15 of his team-high total in points on three-pointers against San Francisco, and played 32 minutes off the bench.
Valuing The Ball: The Highlanders, which averaged 13.3 turnovers per game in 2014-15, are protecting the ball extremely well through three games. They committed just seven turnovers for the second straight game, and have averaged a conference-low 7.3 miscues so far.
SRC Fever: The Highlanders have won 16 of their last 19 games at the SRC Arena heading into Tuesday’s home matchup against Delaware State.
From Downtown: UCR has connected on 11 or more three-pointers in all three games.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Pack Those Bags: UC Santa Barbara prepares to play eight of its next nine games away from home, starting with a trip up north to face San Francisco on Wednesday. The Gauchos then head in the opposite direction to tangle with Arizona State on Sunday.
Sam He Is: Senior Sam Beeler enjoyed one of the finest statistical games of his career in Saturday’s loss to Oregon State, contributing his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He has connected on 9-of-12 shots in the last two games.
Protect That Ball: After collecting 20 turnovers in the season opener at Omaha, the Gauchos have toned down their case of the whoopsies, committing just nine miscues in back-to-back games.
Bryson Inches Up List: Senior Michael Bryson notched 14 points against Oreogn State to move his career total to 1,080, which is 24th in school history. He now takes aim at Nick Jones (1,116), Idris Jones (1,130), Eric McArthur (1,134) and Raymond Tutt (1,141) on the scoring list.
Keep It Going: Hawai‘i moved to 4-0 on the season with a resounding 25-point win over Nicholls State on Sunday. The Rainbow Warriors are off to their best start since the 2010-11 team began 5-0. UH gets its chance to equal that team’s start in the Central time zone, facing Texas Tech on Saturday.
The Stats Tell The Story: Hawai‘i has succeeded early thanks to a mixture of strong shooting and opportunistic defense. The ‘Bows lead the Big West in scoring (84.0), field goal percentage (.502) and steals per game (8.8).
Assist Man: Senior Roderick Bobbitt, the nation’s leader in steals a year ago, is now one of the top assist men in the country. He’s averaging 7.8 helpers per game, good for No. 8 nationally. The guard dished out 14 assists against Montana State on Nov. 13 and added 10 more in his most recent outing against Nicholls State.
Accuracy: Hawai‘i shot 66.1 (39-for-59) percent in the Nicholls State win, the third-highest single-game field goal percentage figure in school history.