Big West Takes On Ranked Opponents
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This Week in the Big West - December 28, 2015-January 3, 2016
2015-16 Men's Basketball Release No. 8
As the men's basketball non-conference schedule nears completion, the Big West takes on a handful of top-25 opponents as UC Irvine travels to No. 2 Kansas, Long Beach State heads to No. 12 Duke, and Cal Poly visits No. 19 Texas A&M.
Resounding “W”: Cal Poly halted a three-game losing streak with an impressive 15-point road victory over UTSA Tuesday. The Mustangs shot 47.1 percent, dished out a season-high 23 assists and committed just seven turnovers to move their record back to the .500 mark.
Morgan From Downtown: Senior guard Reese Morgan is shooting 56.3 (9-for-16) percent from distance over the last three games.
Score, Score, Score: The Mustangs have scored 70 or more points 11 times in 12 games and have surpassed the 80-point mark on four occasions. Cal Poly is averaging 76.6 points per game, the program’s highest scoring average under seventh-year head coach Joe Callero.
Big Opportunity: Cal Poly closes out non-conference play with a matchup against No. 19/21 Texas A&M on Tuesday. It is just the second all-time meeting with an SEC opponent, the first a 69-64 loss at Vanderbilt on Nov. 29, 2001.
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 hope to break out of the slump with a game at Portland State on Tuesday, followed by their final home non-conference contest versus Cal State East Bay on Saturday.
Notable: CSF is tied with three other teams for the most road wins (3) of any Big West school this season.
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).
Last Time Out: Sophomore forward Jamar Akoh yanked down a career-high 18 rebounds in CSF’s 65-60 loss to Portland in the Far West Classic. It was the second-highest single-game total in the Big West this season. Akoh eclipsed his previous season-bests by a landslide after corralling seven versus San Diego (Nov. 21) and Washington (Dec. 6).
Close Strong: CSUN dropped its last game, an 81-63 decision at San Diego, and is now focused on finishing strong with two more non-conference games. The Matadors travel to Idaho State on Tuesday before hosting Morgan State on Saturday.
Fundamental: The Matadors committed a season-low eight turnovers against San Diego. They had tied their then-previous season-low of 11 against Bethesda University for a total of just 19 miscues over the last two contests.
Moving On Up: Senior Tre Hale-Edmerson’s six rebounds versus San Diego vaulted him into No. 8 in CSUN annals with 599. He is one rebound away from becoming just the seventh player in school history to amass 600 for a career.
Good Debut: Sophomore Jerron Wilbut made his CSUN debut against San Diego with an immediate impact. The 6-3 guard scored 15 points in 17 minutes, and took a team-high 15 shots. He also registered the second-most free throw attempts (7) of any Matador.
LONG BEACH STATE
Strong Effort: Long Beach State dominated the points in the paint battle (36-22), but could overcome a parade of Arizona free throw attempts, getting outshot 32-15 at the line in an 85-70 loss to the eighth-ranked Wildcats.
Faust Continues Solid Play: Senior Nick Faust has led the Beach after transferring in from Maryland. The 6-6 guard has scored in double figures in all 14 games, and ranks No. 3 in the Big West in scoring (16.1 ppg). Faust also has been consistently productive from long distance. He has recorded three or more treys in eight contests.
Bibbins Leads: Sophomore Justin Bibbins is tied for 14th in the nation with 82 assists. With seven dimes against Arizona, the point guard has compiled seven or more assists in seven games.
Further Proof: Bibbins has demonstrated he is one of the top distributors in the country, entering this week 14th in assist-to-turnover ratio. He has dished out 82 assists and committed just 21 turnovers. His four turnovers against Arizona was a season-high.
Streak Reaches Five: UC Davis lost its fifth consecutive game, an 80-75 setback in overtime at Seattle on Monday. The Aggies look to stop the slide on Wednesday at Boise State.
Overtime Oh No: The Aggies are now 0-2 this season in overtime games. They had won four straight extra time games dating back to the 2013-14 campaign, including 3-0 last year.
Bringin’ Down The Boards: Junior center Neal Monson pulled down nine rebounds against Seattle in his first reserve appearance of the season, and has now corralled at least that many in seven of 11 contests. Monson is No. 2 in the Big West in rebounds per game (8.8).
Improvement From Three: UC Davis showed some improvement from three-point land against Seattle, tying a season-high with nine from distance. The Aggies had managed to make just 12 treys in their three previous games.
Frosh Watch: Freshman Siler Schneider has three double-digit scoring games in his last four appearances.
First To Ten: UC Irvine became the first Big West team to 10 wins after emerging as champions of the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational last week. The Anteaters held Sam Houston State and Norfolk State to a combined 31.0 percent (35-for-113) in the two victories.
Turner Gets To 100: Russell Turner, in his sixth season at UCI, became the 18th head coach in Big West history to record his 100th career win, hitting the milestone with Tuesday’s 80-62 triumph over Norfolk State. Turner, who has led UCI to three straight 20-win seasons, is 100-84 at the school.
Record Watch: Alex Young’s first assist in Tuesday’s game at Kansas will tie him with Raimonds Miglinieks for the school’s career record of 475. The senior guard is just 26 assists shy from becoming the 12th player in Big West history to reach the 500-assist mark.
Full Nelson: Junior Luke Nelson earned MVP honors of the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational after averaging 16.5 points in the two victories.
Keep It Going: UC Riverside has reeled off four straight victories following Monday’s 81-72 triumph at Morgan State. It is the first four-game win streak for the program since the 2011-12 season.
Good Sign: As head coach Dennis Cutts continues to grow his program, note that UCR earned its third non-conference road win with its successful foray to Morgan State. That represents the most non-conference road wins for the program since the 2008-09 season (4-4).
Exclusive Company: Senior Taylor Johns is 13 rebounds away from becoming the first UCR player to compile career numbers of at least 1,000 points and 700 boards.
Johnson With Career Effort: Junior forward Secean Johnson turned in his best performance as a Highlander as he collected career-highs of 22 points and 17 rebounds versus Morgan State. Johnson’s previous single-game rebounding high was eight.
Close Games: UCR is 2-2 in games decided by five points or less.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Nice Rebound: UC Santa Barbara responded well to a five-game losing streak with consecutive victories over Iona and Washington. The 83-78 win over the Huskies represented UCSB’s first road victory over a Pac-12 opponent since defeating UCLA in 2003.
Free Throws Unite: The Gauchos, which have attempted the fewest free throws of any Big West team by a wide margin, have found a way to get to the line in the last two games. Their combined 46 free throw attempts against Iona and Washington is the program’s highest two-game total this season. UCSB was huge at the stripe in the Washington win, connecting on 16-of-18 tosses.
Bryson Keeps Climbing: After averaging 23.0 points in UCSB’s two wins, senior Michael Bryson has now scored 1,232 career points, putting him in 16th place on the school’s all-time list. He is four points away from surpassing Ricky “Tex” Walker (1973-77) for 15th.
Offense Located: UCSB has recorded its two highest offensive outputs of the season in the last two contests.
Great Showing: Hawai‘i knocked off Northern Iowa and Auburn and nearly shocked No. 2/3 Oklahoma to cement third place for the second straight year in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. In the latest NCAA RPI, Northern Iowa is No. 55 and Auburn No. 75.
What Got Into Him?: Senior Roderick Bobbitt, who had made seven three-pointers through his first eight games played, plowed through the Oklahoma and Auburn defenses with a combined nine treys (in 11 attempts). The six threes he hit against Auburn represented a career-high.
Three-Point Theme: UH tied its season high with 10 three-pointers made against Auburn and registered a season-best in three-point field goal percentage (.455).
Jankovic Impact: Junior forward Stefan Jankovic played well against both Oklahoma and Auburn, registering 38 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks in the two games. His 21 points versus the Tigers was his third 20-point game.
Home Sweet Home: UH is 9-1 at the Stan Sheriff Center.