Off to a 4-0 Big West start, UC Irvine faces road tests against Cal Poly and CSUN in hopes of staying undefeated. The Anteaters are attempting to equal last season's 6-0 start.
UC Irvine Remains Unbeaten In League Play
UC Irvine is the last team standing in the quest to finish the Big West schedule undefeated. The Anteaters have started conference 4-0 for the third time in the last four seasons. They opened 4-0 in 2013-14 before suffering their first loss, and last year’s 6-0 start was the best for UCI in the Russell Turner era. UCI faces two road opponents this week in Cal Poly and CSUN. The ‘Eaters have won the last three meetings in San Luis Obispo.
Davis Defense Readies For The Islands
UC Davis is tied for second place with a 3-1 mark through two weeks of Big West competition. The Aggies are allowing a conference-low 60.0 points per game against Big West opponents. In their lone contest this week, they travel to Hawai‘i in an effort to cool down a Rainbow Warrior squad that scored 114 points in its last outing versus Long Beach State. The 114 points was a UH record in a conference game and the most ever against a Division I opponent in the Stan Sheriff Center.
Challenging Week Ahead For CSUN
CSUN also has enjoyed a 3-1 start in conference. The Matadors sustained their first loss on Saturday to UC Davis. They get first crack at Hawai‘i this week, tangling with the Rainbow Warriors on Wednesday, then come home for a Saturday showdown against first place UCI. CSUN is the Big West leader in field goal percentage (.474) and three-point field goal percentage (.375), and features the No. 2 conference scorer in junior Kendall Smith, who has tallied 20 points or more in three of the last four games.
UC Irvine’s six game winning streak is the longest by any Big West team this season. Long Beach State looks to break a 12-game road losing streak when it travels to Cal Poly Saturday for an ESPNU game. The Mustangs enter Wednesday’s game versus UC Irvine on an eight-game losing streak, although two of their three league defeats have come by five points or less.
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 97-53 in conference games. In addition, with an overall Beach record of 161-154, 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 be UC Santa Barbara junior Gabe Vincent. He’s at 976 points, 24 to go, with sights on becoming the 28th player in school history to achieve the milestone. Vincent is No. 3 in the Big West with 15.1 points per game.
. Big West Rise Up Tour Continues At Cal Poly
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 next stop is at Cal Poly on Jan. 19 and 21. 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. 18 – UC IRVINE AT CAL POLY (BIGWEST.TV) - UC Irvine is the lone remaining undefeated Big West squad. The Anteaters take their 4-0 conference record up the Central Coast to Cal Poly, which is 0-3 and seeking its first conference victory. UCI is off to a 4-0 start for the third time in the last four seasons. Under Russell Turner, the ‘Eaters started out 6-0 in 2015-16 and 4-0 in 2013-14. UCI’s four Big West wins have come by an average margin of 16.8 points. The Mustangs are aiming to end an eight-game losing streak. They have held leads in the second half of two of their three Big West losses.
JAN. 18 – UC RIVERSIDE AT CAL STATE FULLERTON (ESPN3) - UC Riverside has won three of the last four meetings. The Highlanders have held the opponent under 60 points in all three of their wins. UCR limited UC Davis to 55 points and 29.2 percent shooting in last Thursday’s 61-55 triumph. It was a tale of two games for Cal State Fullerton senior Tre’ Coggins last week. He scored a season-high 34 points on 11-of-15 shooting in a win over Cal Poly, but finished 0-for-10 from the field with three point in a loss to UC Irvine. PXP: Trent Rush • COLOR: Richie Schueler
JAN. 18 – CSUN at HAWAI‘I (BIGWEST.TV) - Hawai‘i exploded for 114 points in an OT win over Long Beach State, shooting an astounding 60.7 (37-for-61) percent from the field. UH’s previous best percentage was 47.9 against Texas State. CSUN is off to a 3-1 start in league play. The Matadors are the Big West’s top offensive unit, averaging 78.9 points per game. Junior Kendall Smith averaged 23.5 points against Long Beach State and UC Davis last week.
JAN. 19 – UC SANTA BARBARA AT LONG BEACH STATE (FOX SPORTS WEST) - Long Beach State is attempting to avoid a 1-4 start, which has never happened in the Dan Monson era. The Beach shot 53.7% against Hawai‘i, tops against a D-I opponent this season, and scored 107 points but gave up 114 in an overtime defeat. UC Santa Barbara overcame a 15-point deficit to topple Cal Poly for its first league win last Saturday. PXP: Mark Rogondino • COLOR: Brad Holland • SIDELINE: Rahshaun Haylock
BIG WEST BY THE NUMBERS
16.8 - Average margin of victory in UC Irvine’s 4-0 conference start.
114 - Hawaii’s school record point total in a conference game against LBSU.
60.0 - Scoring defense average for UC Davis, best in Big West action.
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 182 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 97-53 all-time, needing three more victories to become just the seventh coach to reach 100.