UC Irvine Battles Hawai'i In First Place Showdown
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This Week in the Big West - February 8-14, 2016
2015-16 Men's Basketball Release No. 14
A Stan Sheriff Center sellout crowd will witness Thursday's showdown between 18-win squads UC Irvine and Hawai‘i, which are tied atop the Big West men's basketball standings at 7-1.
PRIOR TO TIPOFF
CAL STATE FULLERTON AT CSUN (ESPN3) - CSUN had its highest point total in a conference game this season in 85-75 win at CSF on Jan. 9.
CAL POLY AT LONG BEACH STATE (ESPN3) - LBSU’s three conference losses have been by a combined 10 points, including a double-overtime, 96-92 heartbreaker at Cal Poly on Jan. 16.
UC SANTA BARBARA AT UC DAVIS - UC Davis unbeaten in last 12 Big West home games, tied for fourth-longest streak since joining conference for 2007-08 season. Bob Williams two wins away from 300 at UCSB.
UC IRVINE AT HAWAI‘I - UH expects second consecutive sellout at Stan Sheriff Center. Contest matches Big West’s top defense (UCI) against conference’s best offense (UH). Both squads two wins away from 20-win campaign.
LONG BEACH STATE AT UC DAVIS - LBSU leads the Big West with 210 made three-pointers. UC Davis is tied for the conference lead in fewest threes allowed (147).
CSUN AT UC IRVINE (ESPN3) - Anteaters have won four straight against CSUN in the Bren Events Center.
CAL POLY AT UC RIVERSIDE (FOX SPORTS WEST) - Cal Poly enters game with fewest turnovers committed (224) of any Big West squad. UCR has committed a conference-high 341 turnovers.
CAL STATE FULLERTON AT HAWAI‘I - CSF and UH two of three Big West squads with two scorers in overall top 10.
Tough Sledding: Cal Poly has lost 11 of its last 14 games following a 77-65 victory over Fresno State on Dec. 5. The Mustangs have dropped four straight conference games, and have not lost five in a row in Big West play under head coach Joe Callero. The 2008-09 squad lost six straight Big West games.
Holding Pattern: Seventh-year head coach Joe Callero remains two wins away from reaching 100 at Cal Poly.
Numbers Game: In Big West play, Cal Poly has lost three games by four points or less, and dropped an overtime game to league-co-leader UC Irvine last week by six points.
Sheading The Freshman Moniker: Making his first career start against Hawai‘i, true freshman Jaylen Shead responded with nine points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals in an all-around standout performance.
Morgan’s Territory: Senior Reese Morgan has hit 47 of his 56 field goals from three-point range this season.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Streak Broken: Cal State Fullerton ended a six-game losing streak, topping UC Davis 61-57 on Thursday for the team’s first win since the Big West opener. It also was CSF’s first conference win at home this season.
Ahmad Inches Closer To Record: Khalil Ahmad recorded his sixth 20-point effort with a team-high 21 against UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, moving him to within 34 points of the school’s single-season freshman scoring record. Bobby Brown (2003-04) is the current record holder with 369 points. Ahmad is No. 3 on that list with 336 points.
Boarding Up: The Titans have won the rebounding battle against each of their last five opponents. Against UC Davis, CSF pulled down 51 caroms, its second-highest total in a game this season. The Titans outboarded the Aggies, 51-33.
Esume Gobbles On The Glass: Senior Kennedy Esume had another big night on the boards, corralling 14 against UC Davis for his third double-digit effort of the year.
Close Game Crew: CSUN is quickly becoming a connoisseur of the closely contested game. Five of its last seven games have been decided by five points or less. Last week, the Matadors scratched out a two-point victory at UC Riverside, and were within two (76-74) of Long Beach State with 24 seconds left before eventually losing, 81-76.
Warren’s Big Week: Sophomore Micheal Warren averaged 19.5 points in CSUN’s 1-1 week, recording his fifth 20-point game with 25 against UC Riverside. Coming into the week with only 13 threes all season, the 6-5 guard connected on 7-for-11 from distance, including a career-high four triples versus LBSU.
Discovering Their Stroke: The Matadors drained a season-high eight three-pointers (on 17 attempts) against LBSU.
All-Around: Senior Tre Hale-Edmerson is one of two Big West players to rank in the active career top 10 in five categories – points, rebounds, assists, blocked shots and steals.
LONG BEACH STATE
Up To Three: Long Beach State extended its winning streak to three, overcoming a five-point second-half deficit to topple CSUN, 81-76, on Saturday. The Beach had both point guards, Justin Bibbins and Noah Blackwell, sidelined with injury and then lost fill-in distributor Branford Jones with nine minutes to play.
Faust On Fire: Senior Nick Faust is playing outstanding basketball, with 27 points or more in each of the last three contests. He is averaging 29.7 points and shooting 53.7 percent (29-for-54) from the field over that span. Faust , the Big West’s No. 2 scorer (17.3 ppg), scored 21 of his game-high 27 points against CSUN in the second half.
Free Throw Fervor: LBSU helped its own cause greatly in the CSUN win, registering season-highs in free throw makes (29) and attempts (37), while shooting 78.4 percent from the stripe. That was the team’s third-best single-game free throw percentage this season.
That’s A Dozen: Sophomore Gabe Levin notched his second double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds against CSUN.
Nailbiters: UC Davis won for the fifth time in the last seven games thanks to Brynton Lemar’s teardrop floater with 0.5 seconds remaining, giving the Aggies a 50-49 triumph over UC Riverside. Four of the five Aggie conference wins have come by five points or less, including two by a single point.
Home Court Advantage: The Aggies take a 12-game home court win streak against Big West opponents into Thursday’s matchup with UC Santa Barbara. That is tied for the fourth-longest streak since UC Davis joined the Big West in 2007-08.
Defense Continues To Make Mark: UC Davis has clamped down on the defensive end in Big West play. The Aggies are now the top-rated defensive squad in conference games, yielding a league-low 61.8 points per game. In its five Big West wins, UC Davis has allowed its opponents to average just 56.4 points.
Mine, All Mine: Junior Neal Monson recorded his league-leading seventh and eighth double-digit rebounding games last week against Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside.
Showdown: Co-leaders UC Irvine and Hawai‘i square off for outright possession of first place on Thursday in Honolulu. Both squads are 7-1 in conference play. UCI is 6-2 in head-to-head meetings with UH since 2012-13, including a 3-0 mark last year, and two straight wins on the islands.
Looking Ahead: UCI needs two more wins to set a program standard for most consecutive 20-win seasons (4). Coach Russell Turner’s Anteaters have won 21, 23 and 21 games the past three years. Former Big West member Utah State was the last conference program to accomplish the feat, producing six straight 20-win campaigns from 1999-2005.
The ‘Dou: Junior Mamadou Ndiaye tied his career high with 21 points, and added eight blocks, including four in overtime, to lead the ‘Eaters to a clutch road win against Cal Poly last week. He is now eight blocks away from becoming just the fourth player in Big West history with 200 for a career.
Milestone: Junior Luke Nelson became the 26th Anteater to surpass the 1,000-point career scoring mark, notching 21 points in the Cal Poly win. He is now at 1,018.
Snakebitten: Having won three straight entering last week’s home games versus CSUN and UC Davis, the Highlanders could not capitalize on the momentum and went 0-2 with the losses coming by a combined three points. UC Riverside has lost five games this season by three points or less.
On The Flip Side: UCR is 5-5 this season in games decided by five points or less. Furthermore, the Highlanders seem to love being in tight games. Over the last two-plus seasons, 40 of the team’s 88 games have been decided within five points.
SRC Slump: UCR’s home court, the SRC Arena, is usually a place of success for the Highlanders, but they are 1-5 there in their last six games. The Highlanders face Cal Poly this week to close out a four-game homestand.
Century Club: With a nation’s leading 96 three-pointers, senior Jaylen Bland needs four more to become the 10th player in Big West history to make 100 in a season.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Wake Up Call: UC Santa Barbara, uncharacteristically struggling at home with five losses at the Thunderdome this season, put on a second half offensive clinic to thwart Cal State Fullerton, 81-68, for its third win in the last five games. The Gauchos set season-highs for most points in any half (54) and field goal percentage (66.7%, 18-of-27) to highlight the second stanza.
Moving On Up: Senior Michael Bryson entered the UCSB career scoring top-10 with 41 points over two games last weekend, and finished at 1,449 points, which actually placed him in the eighth spot all-time. Bryson surpassed Branduinn Fullove (1,411), Lucius Davis (1,420) and Doug Rex (1,434) to climb three spots on the list.
Record Watch: With 213 three-pointers, Bryson ranks No. 4 all-time at UCSB and is just nine shy of the record held by James Powell (221, 2006-10).
Consistency: Sophomore Gabe Vincent has scored in double figures in 11 of the last 12 games, and had his third 20-point effort with 20 exactly against Cal State Fullerton.
Making History: Hawai‘i defeated UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly last week to improve to 4-0 in Big West road games, marking the first time in program history to do so. The Rainbow Warriors join UC Irvine as the only two teams undefeated in Big West road games this season.
Something’s Gotta Give: UH and UCI meet Thursday for sole possession of first place. The game pits the Big West’s top offense in Hawai‘i (79.2 ppg) against the league’s best defense in UCI (63.9 ppg). UCI is 9-0 when holding a team to 60 points or less. UH is 15-1 when scoring 75 points or more.
Ball Hawks: The ‘Bows are No. 19 nationally in steals per game (8.3), led by a triumvirate of guards in Big West steals leader Roderick Bobbitt (2.3 spg). Senior Quincy Smith is averaging 2.0 steals per game to rank No. 2, and Isaac Fleming is fifth at 1.5 per game. Fleming missed both games last week due to a leg injury.
Janks: Junior Stefan Jankovic ranks No. 6 in scoring (17.1 ppg) in conference games. He has scored 15 or more in all seven UH wins during Big West play.
COUNTDOWN TO 300 FOR WILLIAMS
Bob Williams is two 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 298-236 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 100 assists against just 25 turnovers. His 4.00 assist-to-turnover ratio is eighth-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
||Alex Young, UC Irvine
||Billy Walker, Long Beach State
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 98-113 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
||Mamadou Ndiaye, UC Irvine
||Greg Somogyi, UC Santa Barbara
||Taylor Johns, UC Riverside
||Tre Hale-Edmerson, CSUN
||Michael Olowokandi, Pacific
BLAND CLOSES IN ON TOP-10 FOR THREES
UC Riverside senior Jaylen Bland, who is tied for the nation’s three-point lead alongside Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, could become just the 10th player in Big West history to knock down 100 threes in a single-season. Bland sits at 96 entering Saturday’s home game against Cal Poly on Fox Sports West. The guard led the Big West with 95 made threes in the 2014-15 season, and is a shoo-in to do so again this season.
Cal State Fullerton’s Josh Akognon was the only player to drain at least 100 threes in back-to-back seasons, accomplishing the feat in 2007-08 and 2008-09.
Previous players to hit 100 or more threes in Big West history are as follows:
SINGLE-SEASON THREE-POINT MADE LEADERS
||Freddie Banks, UNLV
||Josh Akognon, Cal State Fullerton
||Chris Brown, UC Irvine
||Gerald Paddio, UNLV
||Josh Akognon, Cal State Fullerton
||Jeff Herdman, UC Irvine
||Scott Brooks, UC Irvine
||Ryan Sypkens, UC Davis
||Anderson Hunt, UNLV
||Denmark Reid, New Mexico State