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Men's Basketball

Three Teams Remain Unbeaten In Conference Play

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This Week in the Big West - January 11-17, 2016

1/12/2016

2015-16 Men's Basketball Release No. 10

Hawai‘i is off to its best start in 15 years, joining UC Irvine and Long Beach State atop the men's basketball standings after one week of conference play.  However, either the Anteaters or Beach will fall from the ranks of the unbeaten as the two rivals will clash Thursday on Prime Ticket from the Walter Pyramid.

TEAM NOTES

CAL POLY

Back Home: Cal Poly finished 1-5 on its six-game road trip, culminating in a loss to Hawai‘i in Thursday’s Big West opener.  The Mustangs return home for the first time in over a month when they welcome Central Coast rival UC Santa Barbara on Thursday.

Consistent Nwaba: The only Mustang to start in all 14 games, senior David Nwaba has scored in double figures in five straight games to help feed his team-leading 11.5 points per game average.

Sutlive Says: Sophomore Taylor Sutlive has made two or more treys in 10 out of 14 games, and he leads the Big West in three-point field goal percentage (.477).

Protectors:
Cal Poly remains one of the nation’s top teams in terms of taking care of the ball.  The Mustangs enter this week No. 20 in fewest turnovers per game (10.5).  They committed just nine turnovers in the conference opener versus Hawai‘i, marking the fifth game this season in which they had single-digit miscues.

CAL STATE FULLERTON

Good Start: Cal State Fullerton won its Big West opener for the fourth time in the last five seasons, and did so in comeback fashion in Thursday’s triumph at UC Riverside.  The Titans clawed back from a 20-point second half deficit with a game-ending 50-24 run.

Coggins Outstanding: Junior Tre’ Coggins exploded for a career-high 41 points against CSUN in Saturday’s loss, tying him for the second-highest single-game point total in Titan history.  Former standout Josh Akognon twice had 41 points in a game.  The record is 47 by Bobby Brown against Bethune-Cookman on Dec. 16, 2006.

Free Throw Frenzy: The Titans have made a living at the foul line, averaging just over 34 free throw attempts over the last three games.  During that span, CSF is shooting 77.7 (80-for-103) percent.  Against CSUN, the team shot a season-best 89.7 (26-of-29) percent from the charity stripe.

Lights, Camera, Action: Five of CSF’s next six games will be broadcast on ESPN3 or Prime Ticket.

CSUN

Solid Win: CSUN shot a season-best 53.1 percent and picked up its first league win, an 85-75 triumph at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.  Over the last four games, CSUN is averaging 82.8 points.

No Ordinary Smith: UNLV transfer Kendall Smith has impacted the Matadors greatly since he joined the team on Dec. 17.  He has scored 20 points or more in four consecutive games, capped off by a career-high 30 against Cal State Fullerton.  Smith collected half of those points at the free throw line, where he finished 15 of 18 for the game.

Block Artist: With 23 blocked shots over the last seven contests, senior Tre Hale-Edmerson ranks No. 2 in the Big West in blocks at 1.8 per game.  The 6-9 forward/center is also up to 165 career blocks, moving him past Pacific’s Michael Olowokandi for the No. 7 spot in Big West history.

Back-To-Back?: CSUN seeks to win back-to-back league road games for the first time since the 2012-13 season.  The Matadors travel to UC Davis Thursday in hopes of doing so.

LONG BEACH STATE

Out Of The Gate: Long Beach State scored a season-best 94 points to defeat CSUN and then held UC Davis to a season opponent low 47 points to start Big West play 2-0 for the first time since the 2011-12 season, when the Beach reached the NCAA Tournament.

Showdown: LBSU hosts co-league leader UC Irvine in a Thursday showdown on Prime Ticket.  The last two times these teams met inside the Walter Pyramid, the Anteaters won by two points and one point, respectively.

Splash: Spurred by a season-high 15 three-point makes, LBSU rolled to a 15-point win over CSUN in the Big West opener for both teams.  The Beach had not made that many threes in a game since raining 17 on UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 4, 2007.

Levin’s Loving It: Both prior to suffering a broken finger that forced him to be sidelined for three games, and in the three games since his return, sophomore Gabe Levin has been accurate.  The 6-7 forward is shooting 68.6 (24-for-35) percent from the field in the last five games he has played.  Levin scored a season-high 15 points against UC Davis.

UC DAVIS

Finding Their Way: UC Davis opened up Big West play 0-2 with tough losses to UC Irvine and Long Beach State last week, and has now dropped eight of its last nine games.  The Aggies have struggled offensively as they are averaging a conference-low 66.2 points per game.

Fox Trot: Senior Josh Fox recorded his third career double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds against UC Irvine.  Fox ranks No. 11 in the Big West in scoring (13.0 ppg) and No. 6 in rebounding (6.8 rpg).

Pavilion Time: UC Davis takes an eight-game Big West home unbeaten streak into Thursday’s meeting with CSUN.  The Aggies finished 8-0 in conference games at home in 2014-15 en route to their first Big West regular season title.

Big Difference: In 2014-15, the Aggies led the Big West in made threes (274) and three-point field goal percentage (.447), and by significant margins in both categories.  This season, UC Davis has made the second-fewest number of threes (78) and its 34.5 percent success rate from beyond the arc is sixth-best in the latest conference stats.

UC IRVINE

Locked In: UC Irvine dispatched UC Davis and UC Riverside last week to commence Big West play 2-0 for the second time in head coach Russell Turner’s six-year tenure.  UCI’s best conference start under Turner was 4-0 in the 2013-14 season that culminated in a regular season title.

A Bit Of History: UCI’s 13-5 record represents the program’s best 18-game start since the 2001-02 squad sported an identical record at that point in the season.

Countdown To 500: The school’s all-time assist leader, senior Alex Young needs 13 more to become the 12th player in Big West history to collect 500.

Mr. Dependable: Young, the four-year starting point guard, is No. 10 in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (+4.06).   He has played in seven games with no turnovers and has committed more than two turnovers just once all season.

Bench Mob: Winners of six of its last seven games, UCI’s bench has outscored the opponent’s bench in all six of those wins.

UC RIVERSIDE

Onto The Next: UC Riverside takes a four-game losing streak into Thursday’s home showdown against Big West co-leader Hawai‘i.  The Highlanders are seeking to avoid falling below the .500 mark for the first time this season.

Ahead Of Schedule:  After setting the school’s single-season Division I three-point field goals made record with 95 last season, senior Jaylen Bland is on pace to eclipse that mark.  The 6-3 guard, currently No. 2 in the nation with 65 made threes, had 58 makes from distance through 18 games in 2014-15.

Too Much Slack: Through the first 12 games of the season, UCR was one of the nation’s stingiest at preventing the opponent from hitting the three, allowing just 26.4 percent from long distance.  However, over the last six games, teams are making 40.8 percent of their three-pointers.

Positive Stat: UCR enjoyed a 13-2 advantage in offensive rebounds against UC Irvine on Saturday.  The Highlanders have been consistently active on the offensive glass with double-digit offensive boards in 14 of 18 games this year.

UC SANTA BARBARA

Not To Worry: UC Santa Barbara lost its Big West opener for the sixth time in the last eight seasons, falling at Hawai‘i on Saturday.  The Gauchos have finished .500 or better in league play in all but one of those years in which they opened with a defeat.

Bryson Update: With 16 points against Hawai‘i, senior Michael Bryson has scored in double figures in all 13 games played this year.  He is three points shy from becoming the 13th player in UCSB history with 1,300 for his career.

Breaking Out: After a prolonged shooting slump that saw sophomore Gabe Vincent connect at a 34.7 (17-for-49) percent clip from distance through the first nine games, Vincent has regained his rhythm recently.  He is shooting 48.4 (15-for-31) percent from three-point range over the last five contests.

Milestone Watch: Bob Williams needs six wins to reach the milestone 300 and become just the third head coach in history to collect that many victories.  Williams is 294-232 overall in his 18th season.

HAWAI‘I

What A Start: Hawai‘i takes a 13-2 record into Thursday’s game at UC Riverside, looking to go 3-0 in Big West play for the first time since joining the league in 2012-13.  The Rainbow Warriors have not had a better start through 15 games since the 2001-02 squad also opened up 13-2 (and eventually 15-2) en route to an NCAA Tournament berth.

Versatile Winning: The Big West leader in scoring offense at 80.3 points per game, UH found a way to defeat UC Santa Barbara Saturday while tallying its lowest point total of the season.  The 65-57 victory marked just the second time all year that the ‘Bows failed to register at least 70 points, but they also buckled down defensively as UCSB shot just 37.7 (20-for-53) percent from the field.

Jankovic’s Impact: Back-to-back 19-point efforts by Stefan Jankovic helped UH defeat Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara last week, and the efficient 6-11 center shot 65.2 (15-of-23) percent from the field in the two wins.

Fabulous Fleming: Sophomore Isaac Fleming recorded a career-high 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting against UCSB.