CSUN attempts to remain unbeaten in Big West play with a pair of TV games, including Wednesday at Long Beach State (FOX Sports West) and Saturday versus UC Davis (ESPNU). The ESPN3 matchups feature UC Davis at UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton at UC Irvine.
Three Teams Unbeaten After Week One
CSUN, UC Davis and UC Irvine won twice to share first place after the opening week of Big West play. The home teams dominated to the tune of a 7-1 record, with CSUN accounting for the lone road win. The Matadors toppled Cal State Fullerton at Titan Gym.
The Matadors have started out 2-0 in conference for the first time since the 2013-14 season. CSUN attempts to go 3-0 for the first time since 2007-08 – the Matadors opened up 7-0 that season – but must knock off preseason league favorite Long Beach State on the road. The two teams meet Wednesday on Fox Sports West.
CSUN also hosts UC Davis in the first of five games on the linear ESPN networks. Saturday’s showdown from the Matadome takes place on ESPNU.
Auspicious Start For Aggies
UC Davis began the Big West schedule 2-0 for the second time in three years after defeating UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly on Hamilton Court last week. The Aggies opened up 4-0 in 2014-15. They are one of three schools undefeated at home (5-0) this season, joining Cal Poly (4-0) and Long Beach State (5-0). UC Davis, which travels to UC Riverside and CSUN this week, is the only 10-win member at this juncture. The Aggies are enjoying their second four-game win streak of the season.
UC Irvine has started 2-0 in the Big West for the third time in four seasons under Russell Turner. Last season, the Anteaters reeled off six straight wins to begin conference action en route to a regular season co-title. UCI has won four straight overall, limiting opponents to a paltry 55.8 points per game during that span. UCI’s first league road game is Thursday at UC Santa Barbara, followed by a Saturday home tilt against Orange County rival Cal State Fullerton on ESPN3.
Monson Chases Milestone
In his 10th season at Long Beach State, head coach Dan Monson is on the cusp of a career milestone. He needs three more wins to become just the seventh coach in history to earn 100 Big West victories. Monson is currently 97-51 in conference games. In addition, with an overall Beach record of 161-152, he is poised to enter the Big West top 10 for overall victories. The No. 10 slot is occupied by former UC Irvine coach Bill Mulligan (1981-91) with 163.
Point Club Watch
The next Big West player to reach the career 1,000-point club appears to UC Santa Barbara junior Gabe Vincent. He’s at 955 points, 45 to go, and bidding to become the 28th player in Gaucho history to achieve the milestone. Vincent has scored in double figures all 13 games, with a season-high 23 points on three different occasions.
Big West Rise Up Tour Begins On Jan. 12
The Big West Tour sponsored by Fox PrimeTicket and Coors Light returns for 2017, running January 12th through March 2nd. Over the course of the Tour, Big West representatives will make stops at the eight Big West campuses in California, giving fans opportunities to win prizes from the Big West spin wheel. The first stop is UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 12. The Big West Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament returns to Honda Center for the 2017 season, the event's 8th year at the Anaheim-based arena. The tournament runs March 9-11, with the women's first and second rounds March 7-8 at Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid and the women's semifinals and finals at Honda Center March 10-11. The entire men's tournament will be played at Honda Center March 9-11.
PRIOR TO TIPOFF
JAN. 11 – CSUN AT LONG BEACH STATE (FOX SPORTS WEST) - Long Beach State has won the last eight meetings versus CSUN in the Walter Pyramid. The last Matador win at the Pyramid occurred on Feb. 20, 2008, during year one of the Dan Monson era at Long Beach. The Beach committed a season-low six turnovers in Saturday’s victory over UC Riverside. The Matadors allowed their second-lowest scoring output of the season in Saturday’s 70-65 win at Cal State Fullerton. PXP: Mark Rogondino • COLOR: Corey Maggette • SIDELINE: Rahshaun Haylock
JAN. 12 – CAL STATE FULLERTON AT CAL POLY (BIGWEST.TV) - Cal State Fullerton has outrebounded the opponent in six of its seven victories. The Titans recorded their lone conference road win last year against Cal Poly, a 78-77 triumph. The Mustangs are 4-0 at the Mott Athletics Center this year, and hope to snap a six-game losing streak.
JAN. 12 – UC IRVINE AT UC SANTA BARBARA (BIGWEST.TV) - Luke Nelson is averaging 13.7 points and shooting 51.9 percent (14-for-27) from the field in the three games since he returned from a hamstring injury. At least 10 Anteaters have played double-digit minutes in each of the first two Big West games. UC Santa Barbara backcourt mates Gabe Vincent and Eric Childress have combined for 59 of the team’s 82 three-pointers.
JAN. 12 – UC DAVIS at UC RIVERSIDE (ESPN3) - UC Davis looks to extend its winning streak to a season-best five games. The Aggies are holding opponents to 36.6 percent (90-for-246) shooting and 61.3 points per game during the streak. UC Riverside lost a pair of competitive road games to CSUN and Long Beach State by identical six-point margins last week. UCR tied its season-high for threes with 10 at LBSU. PXP: Scott Marsh • COLOR: Richie Schueler
BIG WEST BY THE NUMBERS
65 - Wins in the last 68 games in which UC Irvine holds a foe to 60 points or less.
11 - Career-high assists for Long Beach State’s Justin Bibbins versus UC Riverside.
14 - A career-best rebound total for Cal Poly’s Zach Gordon against UC Davis.
Lou Henson Award Watch List
Juniors Justin Bibbins of Long Beach State and Gabe Vincent of UC Santa Barbara represent the Big West on the 50-player Lou Henson Award Preseason Watch List, as announced by online publication CollegeInsider.com. The two guards are up for the award presented annually to the nation’s top mid-major player. Bibbins, a second team all-conference pick last year, registered 164 assists for the third-highest single-season total in 49er history. Vincent, who earned All-Big West Honorable Mention praise, knocked down 80 three-pointers to rank No. 2 on the Gaucho single-season chart.
Long Beach State Earns Media Nod
With 203 points and 19 first-place votes, Long Beach State was the choice of the media to win the 2016-17 Big West men’s basketball regular season title. Head coach Dan Monson’s 49ers, which return three starters and eight letterwinners from last season’s 20-15 club, was cast in the favorite’s role for the first time since the 2012-13 season. In addition to returning Bibbins, LBSU also welcomes back junior forward Gabe Levin, an honorable mention all-conference selection who averaged 9.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Once again, LBSU faces one of the nation’s toughest non-conference schedules with road games against the likes of Wichita State, North Carolina, Louisville, UCLA, Washington, Kansas and Texas.
Graham Nominated For Allstate Good Works Team
UC Davis senior guard Darius Graham was nominated to the 2017 Allstate NABC Good Works Team, which represents the sport’s finest in the areas of community service and leadership among their peers, and recognizes players at all levels of college basketball whose charitable involvement and altruistic acts stand out amongst all other student-athletes participating in the sport. A total of 181 players were recognized from the NABC, and the final 10-member team will be announced in February and be honored during the 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four® in Phoenix, where they will participate in a community service project benefitting the city. Graham has been involved in the UC Davis Reading Program, which includes more than 23,000 elementary-aged children from 35 schools throughout Yolo and Sacramento counties. In addition, he helped organize food drives, toy drives and classroom visits during his junior season.
Williams, Monson Among Winningest Coaches In Big West History
UC Santa Barbara’s Bob Williams and Long Beach State’s Dan Monson are the two current longest-tenured and winningest head coaches in Big West history. Williams became only the third coach in conference history to reach the 300-win mark when the Gauchos won at UC Riverside on Feb. 18, 2016. He joined Bob Thomason (436 at Pacific) and Jerry Tarkanian (405 at Long Beach State and UNLV) in the exclusive club. Williams, in his 19th season at the helm of the Gauchos, is also third with 181 wins in Big West play. In his 10th season, Dan Monson has compiled 161 wins at Long Beach State, which places him for 11th all-time in Big West annals. Monson is three victories shy from entering the top 10. The No. 10 spot is currently anchored by UC Irvine’s Bill Mulligan (163, 1981-91). On the conference wins list, Monson is 97-51 all-time, needing three more victories to become just the seventh coach to reach 100.