Hawaii Hosts Annual Diamond Head Classic
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This Week in the Big West - December 21-27, 2015
2015-16 Men's Basketball Release No. 7
Hawai‘i, 7-0 at home, hosts the eight-team Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic this week, and opens up with Northern Iowa Tuesday on ESPNU.
The Struggle Is Real: Cal Poly has started 0-3 on a season-long six-game road trip. In the three losses to Saint Mary’s, USC and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the Mustangs allowed 91.3 points per game.
Total Turnaround: The conference’s top defensive club in each of the last five seasons, Cal Poly ranks last in the Big West in scoring defense (74.7 ppg) through 11 games. The Mustangs are 5-0 when holding opponents under 70 points. In contrast, they have allowed foes to average 85.2 points in their six losses.
Bennett Coming On: With just one double figure scoring effort in his first eight games, senior Brian Bennett has recovered to hit double-digits in points in three straight contests. He is averaging 12.0 points and shooting 60.7 (17-of-28) percent over that span.
Tickling The Twine: The Mustangs rank No. 3 in the Big West in three-point percentage (.383). They have shot 43.6 percent (17-of-39) from distance over the last two games.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Reeling: The momentum from a 6-1 start has evaporated as Cal State Fullerton is mired in a four-game losing streak. The Titans lost a pair of games to Oregon State and Portland at the Far West Classic last weekend.
Needed Break: CSF gets a 10-day break before returning to action on Dec. 29 at Portland State. The Titans will be going for their fourth non-conference road win.
Key Cog: Junior Tre’ Coggins has hit at least two threes in all 11 games this season. The 6-2 guard ranks No. 2 in the Big West in total threes made (34) and threes made per game (3.1).
Boarder’s Delight: Sophomore forward Jamar Akoh yanked down a career-high 18 rebounds in CSF’s 65-60 loss to Portland on Saturday. It was the second-highest single-game total in the Big West this season, behind only teammate Kennedy Esume’s 19 caroms at Loyola Marymount on Nov. 13.
Winning Time: CSUN posted back-to-back wins for the first time this season after defeating Portland State and Bethesda College last week. In knocking off the Vikings, the Matadors recorded their first non-conference road win in two years, the last one a 67-66 triumph on Dec. 20, 2013 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Steal Mongering: The Matadors have notched their two highest single-game steal totals in the last two games – 10 against Portland State and 11 versus Bethesda.
Bench Barometer: A starter in the first eight games and off the bench in the last three, sophomore Tavrion Dawson is excelling as a reserve. He has posted two double-doubles in that stretch, including career-highs of 21 points and 13 rebounds against Bethesda.
Hale-Edmerson Reaches Top 10: Senior Tre Hale-Edmerson took over the No. 10 slot in the CSUN career record book for steals with two against Bethesda, giving him 123. Josh Greene is next on the list at No. 9 with 128.
LONG BEACH STATE
Ranked Foe On Tap: Long Beach State prepares for another formidable test in No. 8 Arizona on Tuesday in Tucson. The Beach are in the midst of a four-game roadtrip that continues on Dec. 30 at No. 10 Duke and on Jan. 6 in the Big West opener versus CSUN.
Knocking ‘Em Down: LBSU continues to pace the Big West in three-point field goal percentage (.392) and three-pointers made (118). The Beach has eclipsed double-digit threes made in five of its last six contests, making 11 in its last outing against Oregon.
Record Tied: Junior Travis Hammonds enjoyed a career best performance against Oregon as he canned a school single-game record-tying eight threes en route to a career-high 27 points. He was 8-of-10 from distance for the game.
Bibbins Making His Point: Sophomore point guard Justin Bibbins continues to take great care of the ball, dishing out six assists with no turnovers against Oregon. He has 21 assists and just three miscues in the last four games, and is No. 9 nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (+4.41).
Turn It Around: UC Davis has dropped three straight games and hopes to avoid making it four when Idaho visits Hamilton Court on Tuesday. The Aggies need a win to return to the .500 plateau for the season.
Offensive Downturn: After topping the 70-point mark in five straight games to start the season, the Aggies have scored no more than 67 points in any of their next four games. Normally a strong shooting club, UC Davis has connected at a 41.6 percent (91-for-219) clip from the field over the last four games, and is 1-3 during that span.
Magnificent Monson: Junior center Neal Monson recorded his fourth double-digit rebounding game with 10 against Air Force. He ranks No. 2 in the Big West in rebounds per game (9.0).
Consistency: UC Davis is the only Big West team to have rolled out the same starting lineup in every game. The Aggies have utilized Brynton Lemar, Lawrence White, Darius Graham, Josh Fox and Monson with each starter averaging at least 25 minutes per game.
Milestone Watch: UC Irvine head coach Russell Turner, in his sixth season, is one win away from career No. 100. He moved to 99-84 overall following Monday’s 63-53 triumph over Sam Houston State that catapulted the ‘Eaters into the championship game of the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.
Good As Gold: The Anteaters have won 52 of their last 54 games when holding the opposition to 60 points or less, including 4-0 this season following the win over Sam Houston State.
Record Watch: Senior guard Alex Young has registered 468 career assists, seven behind school record holder Raimonds Miglinieks, who had 475 in his Anteater career.
Mamadou’s Climb: Junior Mamadou Ndiaye is tied with UC Riverside senior Taylor Johns for No. 5 all-time in Big West annals with 166 blocked shots. The 7-6 center has at least one swat in 10 straight games, and is ranked in the top-15 in the country in the category. He leads the conference with 2.7 blocks per game.
Back-To-Back W’s: UC Riverside halted a three-game losing streak with a pair of victories over Abilene Christian and Life Pacific last week. The win over Abilene Christian marked the second non-conference road win for UCR.
Hot Hand Bland: Senior Jaylen Bland ranks among the top players in the country in terms of perimeter shooting. In the national stats, the guard is tied for No. 8 in threes per game (3.67), and tied for No. 4 in total threes made (44).
Exclusive Company: Senior Taylor Johns is attempting become just the third Highlander to amass career numbers of at least 1,000 points and 700 rebounds. Johns has the scoring part handled – with 1,154 points he is No. 4 in school history. He’s 25 rebounds away from joining Howard Lee (1969-72) and Vili Morton (2000-02, 03-05) in that exclusive club.
Perimeter Play Reemerges: After being held to a collective 13 threes during a three-game stretch, the Highlanders erupted for 11 long bombs against Life Pacific, the fourth time this season the team has gone for double-digits.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Tough Stretch: A slew of tough opponents has thrown UC Santa Barbara into a five-game tailspin, the program’s first such losing streak since the 2012-13 season. The Gauchos have not lost six straight since the 1998-99 campaign, which marked the first season in the tenure of head coach Bob Williams.
Bright Spot: Senior Michael Bryson continued his solid season with 13 points against Akron on Monday in the South Point Classic. He has reached double figures in points in all eight games this season and ranks second in the Big West in scoring (17.9 ppg).
Broke The Barrier: The Gauchos went their first eight games without scoring 70 points in a single one. They broke that barrier on Monday against Akron in an 84-70 loss.
Fewest Freebies: The Gauchos are getting to the charity stripe more often, but they still rank last among Big West teams in free throws made (97) and free throws attempted (137). In fact, the team with the next fewest freebies attempted in the league still exceeds UCSB by 64 attempts.
Home Sweet Home: Hawai‘i takes a 7-0 home record into the prestigious eight-team Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. On Tuesday, the ‘Bows open up against Northern Iowa, a squad receiving votes in the USA Today/ESPN and Associated Press Top-25. A win sets up a potential showdown with No. 2 Oklahoma in the next round.
Fleming En Fuego: Sophomore Isaac Fleming cracked the starting lineup for the first time this season on Dec. 12 against Hawai‘i-Pacific, and had 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting. It’s a continuation of solid play from the 6-3 guard, who has pieced together four straight double-digit scoring efforts and has averaged 16.8 points in that stretch.
Accurate: The ‘Bows have shot 50 percent or better in half of their games.
Onslaught: Six of UH’s seven wins have come by double digits.
Need Improvement: UH is connecting at league-low 60.5 percent (127-for-210) from the free throw line this season.