Hawai‘i attempts to break the Stan Sheriff Center single-season wins record this week with games against UC Riverside and CSUN.
PRIOR TO TIPOFF
FEB. 24 – LONG BEACH STATE at UC IRVINE (#BWConESPN3) - The Black and Blue rivalry game features two teams tied for second in the Big West at 9-3. In the first meeting on Jan. 14, won by UCI 58-54, both teams struggled offensively. But the Beach struggled more, managing just 24.6% (14-of-57) shooting. UCI junior center Mamadou Ndiaye has 18 blocked shots in four career games against LBSU.
FEB. 25 – CAL STATE FULLERTON at CAL POLY (BIGWEST.TV) - Cal Poly’s Senior Night features the final games inside Mott Gym for David Nwaba, Reese Morgan, Brian Bennett and Joel Awich. The quartet represents Cal Poly’s top scorers who have accounted for 1,050 of the1,918 points scored, or 55 percent of the total offense.
FEB. 25 – UC SANTA BARBARA AT CSUN (FOX #PRIMETICKET) - A UCSB win guarantees that the Gauchos will finish in the top four of the Big West standings for the 16th time in 18 seasons under head coach Bob Williams. Seniors Michael Bryson of UCSB and Tre Hale-Edmerson of CSUN are the only two Big West players to be ranked in the top 10 active career list in all five categories – scoring, rebounding, assists, blocked shots and steals.
FEB. 25 – UC RIVERSIDE AT HAWAI‘I (BIGWEST.TV) - Hawai‘i is 16-2 at home, and a win would tie the Stan Sheriff Center single-season record for most victories. The Rainbow Warriors enter on a six-game winning streak, while the Highlanders have lost their last four. UH junior Stefan Jankovic is averaging 25.0 points over the last three games.
More Close Calls: Cal Poly is looking more dangerous by the day as far as its Big West Tournament prospects go. Seven of the team’s 13 conference games have been decided by five points or less, and the Mustangs are 2-5 in those games. The difference between their current No. 7 seed and a higher one is minimal.
Century Mark: Cal Poly’s 58-53 victory over UC Davis last Thursday gave head coach Joe Callero his 100th victory at the school.
Baker’s Dozen To Go: Senior David Nwaba is 13 points away from becoming the 23rd player in Mustang history to score 1,000 career points.
Morgan From The Parking Lot: Senior Reese Morgan tied his career high with seven three-pointers against CSUN last week, and he is now No. 4 in the Big West with 64 treys this season. The guard has made 22 threes over the last six games. Morgan also just cracked the Cal Poly career top-10 for threes with 144.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Break The Streak: Cal State Fullerton looks to snap a five-game losing streak heading into its final Big West road game against Cal Poly on Thursday. In the midst of that slide, the Titans have led at halftime in four of those games.
Ahmad Breaks Freshman Record: Khalil Ahmad became Cal State Fullerton’s single-season freshman scoring record holder on Wednesday with 13 points against Long Beach State. Ahmad, who now has 382 points, surpassed Bobby Brown for the distinction. Brown, who has had NBA stints with various teams, scored 369 points during the 2003-04 season.
Brooks Heating Up: Senior Malcolm Brooks tied his season high with 22 points against UC Irvine. He has scored in double figures in five straight games, averaging 14.8 points over that span.
O-Boards: CSF has recorded double-digit offensive boards in five of the last seven contests.
Double Sweep: CSUN knocked off Cal Poly, 75-71 in overtime on Saturday to register its first series sweep over the Mustangs to the 2008-09 season. The Matadors have now posted two Big West series wins (Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton) in one season for the first time since 2010-11.
Free Throw Excellence: The Matadors lead the Big West in free throws made (468) and rank second in free throw percentage (.713). They have recorded at least 27 trips to the line in each of the last five games.
Tre Hale’s Milestone: Senior Tre Hale-Edmerson became the sixth Matador in school history to eclipse the career 700-rebound mark with six against Cal Poly. He now is at 702, only nine away from taking over the No. 5 spot.
Eleven For Eleven: Junior Aaron Parks went 11-for-11 at the free throw line against Cal Poly. No stranger to making free throws, Parks holds the Big West single-game record with 19 made free throws on Feb. 28, 2015 versus UC Riverside.
LONG BEACH STATE
Now At Six: Long Beach State takes a six-game winning streak into a Wednesday showdown at UC Irvine. Both teams are tied for second place in the Big West at 9-3. The Beach seeks to win seven in a row for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
Monson Gets To 150: LBSU head coach Dan Monson became the 13th head coach in Big West history to win 150 games following Saturday’s victory against Cal State Fullerton.
Protecting The Ball: The Beach committed a season-low five turnovers against CSF.
D-Fense: LBSU has allowed 48 and 57 points to UC Davis and Cal State Fullerton in its last two games, respectively. The Beach is 6-1 this season when yielding 60 points or fewer.
Black And Blue: Five of the last six regular season meetings between LBSU and UCI have been decided by four points or less. The Beach are looking to win their second straight game in Irvine.
About Face: Since enjoying a stretch of five wins in seven games, UC Davis has lost four straight. The Aggies have made 79 of their last 204 field goal attempts, 38.7%, in the four defeats. UC Davis also has scored less than 60 points in five of its last six contests.
Lights, Camera, Action: The Pavilion takes center stage on the national ESPN networks for the fourth straight year as the Aggies host UC Irvine on ESPN2 Saturday. The last three ESPN nationally televised games from the venue have drawn crowds of 5,317, 5,227 and 5,670.
Chugging Along: Junior Neal Monson recorded his conference-leading 10th game with double-digit rebounds, corraling 10 against Cal Poly. He is the Big West leader in rebounding at 8.5 per game.
Lemar Post First Double-Double: Junior Brynton Lemar collected his first career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds against UC Santa Barbara. He is the third different Aggie – Josh Fox and Monson – to tally a double-double this season.
Back At 20: UC Irvine registered its fourth straight 20-win season for the first time in history. The Anteaters have the longest streak of 20-win seasons since former Big West member Utah State reeled off six in a row from 1999-2005.
Mamadou Joins Elite Company: With three blocked shots against Hawai‘i, junior center Mamadou Ndiaye becamee just the fourth player in Big West history to register 200 for a career. He is now just eight rejections shy of tying UCI record holder Will Davis II (208, 2011-15).
Automatic: Junior guard Luke Nelson would be the NCAA leader in free throw percentage but currently does not meet the criteria of 2.5 makes per game. He has made 64 of 69, 92.8%, which betters the national leader Fletcher Magee of Wofford at 92.6%.
Young Assist Watch: Senior Alex Young, No. 15 nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (+3.45) through games of Feb. 22, has 528 assists to rank ninth in Big West career history. He needs 10 more to move past Cal State Fullerton’s Wayne Williams (537, 1988-91) for eighth.
Rough Patch: UC Riverside dropped its fourth straight game in a Thursday loss to UC Santa Barbara. The Highlanders now face the top four teams in the standings to finish out the regular season, beginning with a road tilt at league-leading Hawai‘i on Thursday.
Johnson Stepping Up: Junior Secean Johnson posted his second double-double of the year with 21 points and 10 rebounds versus UC Santa Barbara. It was his fourth 20-point outing and the third time he has collected double-digit rebounds in a game.
Bland In The Century Club: Senior Jaylen Bland is one of just four players in NCAA Division I with 100 three-pointers this year – Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, IPFW’s Max Landis and North Florida’s Trent Mackey are the others – and Bland connected on his 100th of the season in the second half of the UCSB game.
What’s Next?: Bland needs five more treys to unseat New Mexico State’s Denmark Reid (104, 1997-98) for 10th in Big West single-season history.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Back Above .500: Four straight wins have pushed UC Santa Barbara back above the .500 mark for the first time since winning the season opener against Nebraska-Omaha. The Gauchos hit the road for matchups against CSUN and Cal State Fullerton this week, looking to finish conference play 6-2 in away games.
Bryson Nears 1,500 Club: Senior Michael Bryson enters the week with 1,491 career points, needing nine more to become the eighth Gaucho to accumulate 1,500.
Three-Point Record In View: Senior Michael Bryson did not record a three-pointer in back-to-back games last week, so he remains at 215 for his career, needing seven more to unseat James Powell (221) from the top spot.
Free Throw Focus: The Gauchos have made 20-plus trips to the free throw line in three consecutive games, a first for them this season. They are also taking advantage of the increased frequency at the line, hitting 59-of-72 (.819) in that three-game stretch. UCSB had shot 20 or more free throws just three times in the previous 22 contests.
Drivers Seat: Hawai‘i owns a two-game lead over UC Irvine and Long Beach State for the Big West regular season title with four games to play. The ‘Bows can earn no worse than a share of the title with wins over UC Riverside and CSUN this week.
Stan Sheriff Center Record In Review: UH is 16-2 at the Stan Sheriff Center, marking the most home court wins for the program since the 2001-02 season. The record for most wins in a season at the Stan Sheriff Center is 17, accomplished by the 1997-98 squad.
What A Job: First-year head Eran Ganot has led UH to a 22-3 record, and is moving in on a Big West record. The most victories by a rookie head coach in the Big West is held jointly by a pair of legends who once coached at Long Beach State. Jerry Tarkanian (1969-70) and Lute Olson (1973-74) both won 24 games in their first year at the D-I level.
A Bit Of History: Senior Roderick Bobbitt, the Big West’s steals leader for the second straight season, is four swipes from tying Tom Henderson (160) for the most in UH annals.