UC Irvine, Hawai'i Remain Unbeaten In Big West Play
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This Week in the Big West - January 18-24, 2016
2015-16 Men's Basketball Release No. 11
UC Irvine and Hawai‘i are both 4-0 in men's conference action, and play just one game this week. The Anteaters host Cal State Fullerton on Prime Ticket, while the 'Bows welcome UC Davis to the Stan Sheriff Center.
Sigh Of Relief: Cal Poly, which had lost six of its last seven contests, won for the first time this season when trailing at halftime as the Mustangs pulled off a dramatic, 96-92, double overtime victory over Long Beach State on Saturday. It was the first multi-overtime game at home for Cal Poly in nearly 44 years.
Bennett Hones In On Milestone: Senior Brian Bennett, fresh off a season-high 21-point performance versus LBSU, requires just 20 more points to become the 22nd player in program history with 1,000 career points.
Doesn’t Stop There: Bennett’s 12 rebounds against The Beach secured him his fourth career double-double and moved him into 13th all-time at Cal Poly with 504 boards.
Take A Bow, Bench: Cal Poly had four reserves score double-digit points in the win over LBSU, led by Bennett’s 21 and followed by 14 from Josh Martin, 12 from Joel Awich and 11 from Taylor Sutlive. The Mustang bench accounted for 58 of the team’s 96 points.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Upset Bid Thwarted: Cal State Fullerton led by four points with 26 seconds remaining in regulation, but conference co-leader Hawai‘i tied the game to force overtime and hand the Titans their second straight Big West loss. CSF is now 0-2 in home conference games.
Career Firsts For Lionheart: Junior Lionheart Leslie recorded his first career double-double against Hawai‘i, including career bests of 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Free Throw Parade Continues: The Titans have created a habit of getting to the free throw line, having averaged 35.5 attempts over the last four games. They registered season-highs in free throw makes (31) and attempts (39) against Hawai‘i. CSF has shot 78.2 percent (111-for-142) from the line during that four-game stretch.
Bragging Rights: CSF seeks to halt a seven-game losing streak to Orange County rival UC Irvine when the two teams meet Wednesday on Prime Ticket.
Snakebitten: CSUN fell to 1-6 this season in games decided by five points or less after consecutive one-point and three-point losses to UC Davis and UC Riverside last week, respectively.
Block Party USA: CSUN senior Tre Hale-Edmerson has tallied two or more blocked shots in nine straight games. The 6-9 forward/center has 28 swats during that span for an average of 3.1 per game. With 170 career blocks, No. 7 in Big West history, Hale-Edmerson is on pace to hit the 200-mark by season’s end.
All Hail The Bench: CSUN’s bench has outscored the opponent bench in each of the last three games, tallying a 56-15 advantage in that category.
Is It The Sunsets?: There must be something about taking a trip to Santa Barbara that brings out the best in the Matadors. CSUN has won three straight and six of the last eight meetings against UC Santa Barbara at the Thunderdome. The two clubs meet on Saturday.
LONG BEACH STATE
Stunned: Long Beach State dropped a pair of four-point games to UC Irvine (58-54) and Cal Poly (96-92 in 2OT) despite holding second half leads in both. In games decided by five points or less this season, the Beach is 2-5 with all five losses coming consecutively.
Bibbins The Scorer: Known as one of the Big West’s top distributors and assist leader (5.4 apg), sophomore point guard Justin Bibbins is also gaining a reputation for his ability to score. After averaging 8.5 points through the season’s first 13 games, Bibbins has scored in double figures in five of the last six, including two 20-point efforts. In that six-game span, he is averaging 15.2 points.
Three Talk: LBSU is the only team in the Big West with five players who have logged at least 20 three-point makes. Senior Nick Faust has set the pace with 51 threes and ranks No. 6 in the conference in three-point field goal percentage (.425).
Feast Or Famine: In LBSU’s first four league games, the team has either scored more than 90 points or less than 60.
Building Blocks: UC Davis overcame an 11-point deficit with 13 minutes to play, defeating CSUN, 63-62, on a corner three-pointer from freshman Siler Schneider with 1.7 seconds remaining. The Aggies won their ninth consecutive Big West home game in the process.
Monson Maintains Lead: Junior Neal Monson grabbed 13 rebounds against CSUN, the second straight game he had that many boards, and the sixth this season he has recorded double-digits. The effort maintained his standing as the Big West rebounding leader at 8.9 per game.
Graham Dimes: Junior point guard Darius Graham, the only Aggie to start all 16 games, tied his season high with five assists in the CSUN win. He sits No. 9 in school history with 263 career assists, needing 10 more to move into the eighth spot.
A Sign To Come: After shooting 20 percent (7-for-35) from three-point range in their previous three games, the Aggies connected on a season-best 63.6 percent from distance, making seven of their 11 attempts.
Rolling: UC Irvine went on a game-ending 17-0 run to topple UC Santa Barbara, 61-52, on the road Saturday to improve to 4-0 in Big West play for the second time in head coach Russell Turner’s tenure. The ‘Eaters seek to go to 5-0 in league play for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign when that squad opened up 8-0.
Historical Reference: UCI’s 15-5 start is the best for the program in 15 years since the 2000-01 team opened 17-3.
Next, Please: Senior Alex Young eclipsed the 500 career assist plateau last week, one of just 12 individuals in Big West history to accomplish the feat. He is just 14 shy of tying UC Santa Barbara’s Ray Kelly (1990-93) in the No. 10 slot.
Bench Mob: In each of its last eight wins, UCI has won the bench points scoring battle. Junior super sub Jaron Martin has led the ‘Eater contingent off the bench in UCI’s last three wins with 11, 11 and seven points, respectively.
D-Fense: UCI is allowing a league-low 57.3 points through four conference games.
Return To Win Column: UC Riverside extinguished a five-game losing streak with a come-from-behind 75-72 victory over CSUN on Saturday. The Highlanders never trailed during the first 37 minutes, but watched CSUN go on a late 20-8 run to briefly take the lead. However, UCR scored seven of the final nine points to secure the win.
Nation’s Leader: Senior Jaylen Bland took over the nation’s lead in made three-pointers after canning 11 last week, including a season-high seven against CSUN. As of Jan. 19, the 6-3 guard tops all Division I players with 76 threes, ahead of North Florida’s Trent Mackey (73).
Bland Or Spicy?: Bland leads all Big West players with seven games of 20 points or more. He has reached the 20-point mark in the last three contests, scoring 20 versus UC Irvine, 22 against Hawai‘i and 24 versus CSUN.
Block Party: UC Riverside rejected a season-high 10 shots against Hawai‘i last Thursday, led by a career-high six swats from sophomore Alex Larsson. That total ties UCI’s Mamadou Ndiaye for most blocks in a game this season.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Onto The Next: UC Santa Barbara scored a season-low in points in Saturday’s 61-52 loss to UC Irvine. The Gauchos continue a three-game homestand this week with matchups against Long Beach State and CSUN.
Bryson Hits Milestone: With two three-pointers against UC Irvine, senior Michael Bryson became the fourth player in UCSB history to accumulate 200 career treys. He is now just 22 threes shy of breaking the school record of 221 held by James Powell (2006-10).
Vincent Continues Hot Streak: Sophomore Gabe Vincent has scorched the nets recently, shooting 49.1 (26-for-53) percent from three-point range over the last seven games. He set career-highs of 27 points and seven three-pointers to lead UCSB to a 76-73 win over rival Cal Poly on Thursday.
Beeler’s Breakout: Senior Sam Beeler made 11 of 13 shots, 84.6%, in games against Cal Poly and UC Irvine last week. The 6-10 forward is shooting an astounding 80.0 (24-for-30) percent from the field over the last six games, including a 7-for-7 effort versus Washington and 8-of-9 against Cal Poly.
Sizzling: Hawai‘i improved to 15-2 on the season thanks to hard fought road victories over UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton last week. The 15-2 start is the best for the program since the 2001-02 NCAA Tournament squad opened up with the same record.
And About That League Record: UH is 4-0 in Big West play for the first time since joining the conference in 2012-13. The ‘Bows have not begun a conference slate with five straight wins since the 2001-02 team opened WAC play 6-0.
Janks: Junior Stefan Jankovic is averaging 18.5 points and ranks No. 5 in scoring through four Big West games. He was critical in UH’s overtime win at CSF with 21 points, including a late game-tying three-pointer that sent the game into an extra period. The 6-11 forward is shooting 61.9 (26-for-42) percent during conference action.
A Tale Of Two Seasons: UH has made exceptional improvement at the free throw line. The team shot 60.4 (127-for-210) percent through the first eight games, but has improved to 72.6 percent (178-for-245) over the last nine.