UC Irvine, Hawai'i Look To Extend Win Streak
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This Week in the Big West - January 25-31, 2016
2015-16 Men's Basketball Release No. 12
Hawai‘i has won eight straight and UC Irvine six in a row, and both squads take 5-0 conference records into this week's action while every other team in the standings has at least three losses.
Century Mark: Cal Poly seventh-year head coach Joe Callero enters this week with an opportunity to reach a coaching milestone. Callero is two wins shy of 100 at Cal Poly. He is 98-109 overall, and seeks to become the 19th coach in history to collect 100 wins at a Big West institution.
Bennett Joins The Club: With 22 points this past weekend against CSUN and Cal State Fullerton, senior Brian Bennet surpassed the 1,000 point career mark, becoming the 22nd Mustang to do so. He enters this week with 1,002 points.
Three-Point Specialist: Senior Reese Morgan, who ranks No. 7 in the Big West in three-point field goal percentage (.418), has made 48 baskets this season, 41 of which have come from three-point range.
Depth A Plenty: The depth of Cal Poly’s roster is evident in that, of the 399 points the squad has scored through five conference games, the bench is responsible for 203 of them, or 50.8 percent of the total scoring.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Tough Times: Cal State Fullerton has lost four straight games after a conference-opening win. CSF is fighting the injury bug and have fielded just eight players for each of their last three games.
Ahmad Makes His Case: Khalil Ahmad is making a case for Big West Freshman of the Year honors. A starter for the last eight contests, the 6-4 guard has scored in double figures in nine straight. Ahmad is averaging 18.7 points during that nine-game stretch. He tallied 21 and 23 points last week against UC Irvine and Cal Poly.
Good At The Stripe: The Titans rank No. 3 in the Big West in free throw percentage (.707), helped by the fact that they have shot better than 70 percent from the line in six straight games. Two other Titan clubs have won the Big West free throw shooting title – in 1990-91 and 2012-13.
Key Cog-gins: Junior Tre’ Coggins is tied for the Big West lead with seven 20-point performances this season, including 21 against Cal Poly on Saturday.
Close Encounters: CSUN played in its third game decided by three points or less, and after losing the first two, came through with a two-point victory over Cal Poly as Jerron Wilbut hit a late three. Eight of CSUN’s 20 games have been decided by five points or less.
What A Start: Junior Kendall Smith’s 20-point effort at UC Santa Barbara on Saturday was his sixth in 11 games since joining the squad on Dec. 17. The UNLV transfer is averaging 17.8 points per game and would be the Big West’s second-leading scorer but does not meet minimum requirements for games played.
Well-Rounded: Of five categories – points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals – senior Tre Hale-Edmerson ranks among the top five in four of them among current Big West players. He is No. 2 in rebounds, No. 5 in assists, and No. 3 in blocks and steals.
A Regular: Hale-Edmerson is the only Matador to start all 20 games this season.
LONG BEACH STATE
Close Games Unkind: Long Beach State has now lost six straight games when the outcome was decided by five points or less. All three conference losses have been by four points or less
Long Distance Connecting: The Beach will make over 200 three-pointers for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons. The team has made a league-leading 190 with still more than half the conference schedule left to play. The LBSU record for made threes in a season is 273 by the 2006-07 team.
Three Talk: LBSU is not just making threes, but doing it with efficiency. Topping the Big West with a .394 three-point field goal percentage, that mark currently ties the 1986-87 squad for the single-season school record.
Bibbins Land: Sophomore Justin Bibbins has scored in double figures in seven of the last eight contests after doing so just four times in the first 13. He notched a career-high 25 points at UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday, going a perfect 5-for-5 from three-point range. Over the last three games, the point guard is shooting 61.3 percent (19-of-31) from the field and 78.6 percent (11-of-14) from three.
Protect This House: The two UC Davis conference wins have come at home by a total of four points. The Aggies own a 10-game winning streak in home Big West games, and look to extend it this week against Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly.
Fox Trot: Senior Josh Fox posted back-to-back 20-point games last week and averaged 22.5 points against UC Riverside and Hawai‘i. His 25 points versus the ‘Bows was a season-high.
Defense Improving: Before giving up 78 points at Hawai‘i on Saturday, the Aggie defense had stiffened up recently. In the three games prior, UC Davis had allowed an average of 58.7 points to opponents. The 166 points allowed was the team’s fewest in any three-game stretch this season.
Shooting Stars: UC Davis shot 51.1 (24-of-47) percent from the floor at Hawai‘i, the seventh time this season the squad has hit or exceeded the 50 percent mark, including the third time in the last seven contests. The Aggies are 4-3 in games in which they shoot 50 percent or better.
Keeping It Going: UC Irvine is 5-0 in Big West play for the first time since the 2005-06 squad began the league schedule 8-0. The ‘Eaters travel to CSUN on Wednesday (ESPN3) and host UC Santa Barbara on Saturday (ESPNU) seeking to extend a six-game winning streak.
Looking Ahead: UCI needs four more wins to set a program standard for most consecutive 20-win seasons with four. Coach Russell Turner’s Anteaters have won 21, 23 and 21 games the past three seasons.
Chart Buster: With 505 career assists, senior Alex Young is 11 away from entering the Big West top 10.
Super Sub: Junior Jaron Martin came off the bench to score a career-high 22 points, hitting a career-best six threes in UCI’s win over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday. Martin has been the team’s top scoring reserve in four straight games.
Defensive Strangehold: UCI has held five of its last six opponents under 60 points. The ‘Eaters are 9-0 this season when the opponent scores 60 or less.
Maturity: UC Riverside is 7-4 in Big West games decided by five points or less dating back to last season. The Highlanders have played in three consecutive one possession games and are 2-1, most recently defeating Long Beach State, 74-72, on Saturday.
Leader Of The Three: Senior Jaylen Bland remains the nation’s leader in made three-pointers, entering the week with 83. He canned five treys against LBSU, giving him four or more on 14 separate occasions this season.
Staying On The Court: Taylor Johns, who fouled out in three of the first four Big West games, did not commit a single foul while playing the full 40 minutes against LBSU, and seized the opportunity with a season-high 26 points.
Up Another Notch: With the 26-point effort against LBSU, Johns increased his career scoring total to 1,286 points, which slid him into the No. 3 slot in the UCR record book.
One Or The Other: Either Johns or Bland has led the Highlanders in scoring in each of the last eight games.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Protect This House: UC Santa Barbara entered Saturday’s Big West tilt with CSUN with an 0-4 home record against Division I opponents this season. However, the Gauchos turned the tide at The Thunderdome, outscoring the Matadors 34-14 in the paint en route to a 74-61 win.
Climbing: Senior Michael Bryson averaged 21.0 points in two games last week, pushing his career total to 1,365 points and ahead of Scott Fisher (1,351, 1982-86) for 12th place in UCSB history. Bryson is 47 points away from entering the school’s top-10.
On Pace: Bryson’s conference-leading 18.9 points per game average, if it holds up, would give the Gauchos the Big West scoring champion for the fifth time in the last seven years.
A Childress Shall Lead Them: Junior Eric Childress dished out a career-high nine assists in the CSUN win. The point guard is averaging 6.8 assists over the last four games.
Barometer: The Gauchos are a perfect 6-0 this season when they score more than 70 points.
Eight Not Enough: Hawai‘i extended its winning streak to eight straight with last Saturday’s 78-62 triumph over UC Davis, the team’s 12th by double-digit points this season. The eight straight wins is the most for the program since the 2004-05 season.
Rolling Along: UH takes a 5-0 Big West mark into this Saturday’s home showdown with Long Beach State. The ‘Bows last started 6-0 in conference play when they were members of the WAC in 2001-02.
Multi-Pronged Attack: Hawai‘i has the highest number of 20-point performances (17) among Big West teams. Four players have divvied up the 20-point efforts, with Roderick Bobbitt and Stefan Jankovic leading the way at five apiece. Aaron Valdes has scored 20 or more on four occasions, and Isaac Fleming three times.
Doing It At Both Ends: In Big West play, UH leads all squads in scoring offense (80.4 ppg), while being equally impressive on defense. The ‘Bows have allowed 67.1 points per game, third-best in the conference.
COUNTDOWN TO 300 FOR WILLIAMS
Bob Williams is four victories away from becoming just the third head coach in Big West history to reach career milestone No. 300. In his 18th year at UC Santa Barbara, Williams has compiled a 296-234 record, including five 20-win seasons. The only other two coaches to attain the landmark 300 have actually gone over the 400 mark – Pacific’s Bob Thomason (436) and Jerry Tarkanian, who collected 405 victories between Long Beach State and UNLV. Williams is the longest tenured Division I head coach west of the Mississippi River.
ALL-TIME WINS LEADERS – BIG WEST HEAD COACHES
||Bob Thomason, Pacific
||Jerry Tarkanian, Long Beach State & UNLV
||1970-73 & 1983-92
||Bob Williams, UC Santa Barbara
||Neil McCarthy, New Mexico State
||Jerry Pimm, UC Santa Barbara
YOUNG GETS TO 500 CAREER ASSISTS
Only 11 players in Big West men’s basketball history had accumulated 500 career assists entering the 2015-16 season. Add UC Irvine senior Alex Young as the 12th. His six assists against UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 16 allowed him to join the exclusive club. The school’s all-time assist leader, Young is having an outstanding year with 91 assists against just 19 turnovers. His 4.79 assist-to-turnover ratio is third-best in the country.
BIG WEST CAREER ASSIST LEADERS
||Greg Anthony, UNLV
||Leon Wood, Cal State Fullerton
||Mark Wade, UNLV
||Sam Crawford, New Mexico State
||Danny Tarkanian, UNLV
||Dedan Thomas, UNLV
||Casper Ware, Long Beach State
||Wayne Williams, Cal State Fullerton
||Bobby Brown, Cal State Fullerton
||Ray Kelly, UC Santa Barbara
||Billy Walker, Long Beach State
||Alex Young, UC Irvine
CALLERO NEARS 100 VICTORIES
Cal Poly’s Joe Callero is two victories away from becoming the 19th head coach in Big West history to record 100 career wins at his institution. The seventh-year mentor is 98-109 overall. Hitting the milestone would also make Callero Cal Poly’s winningest head coach at the Division I level. Current UC Santa Barbara assistant coach Kevin Bromley owns that distinction as he went 99-145 from 2001-09.
BLOCK PARTY AFICIONADOS
Three of the top shot blockers in Big West history are all playing at the same time, looking to imprint their names on the record book. All three are chasing the career milestone of 200 blocked shots, a mark that only three other Big West players have accomplished. UC Irvine junior Mamadou Ndiaye, UC Riverside senior Taylor Johns and CSUN senior Tre Hale-Edmerson are ranked in succession in the Big West career top 10.
CAREER BLOCKED SHOTS LEADERS
||Player , School
||Eric McArthur, UC Santa Barbara
||Alan Williams, UC Santa Barbara
||Will Davis II, UC Irvine
||Greg Somogyi, UC Santa Barbara
||Mamadou Ndiaye, UC Irvine
||Taylor Johns, UC Riverside
||Tre Hale-Edmerson, CSUN
||Michael Olowokandi, Pacific