League-leading UC Davis plays a couple of critical games down south, while UC Irvine and CSUN attempt to keep pace with single home games this week.
Red Hot UC Davis Remains In Lead
Winners of 10 of its last 12 games, UC Davis is atop the Big West standings with an 8-2 record. The Aggies are ahead of UC Irvine by just one-half game, and up 1.5 games on third place CSUN. UC Davis faces a pivotal road trip this week to Long Beach State (ESPN3) and Cal State Fullerton (Prime Ticket).
UC Davis is enjoying its second-best Big West start through 10 games, second only to the 2014-15 squad which opened 9-1. In terms of total wins, the 16 victories for this year’s squad ranks No. 2 all-time in the school’s Division I history. The 2014-15 edition won 25 games.
UC Irvine Putting The Clamps On
UC Irvine is positioned to win at least a share of the Big West regular season crown for the third time in the last four seasons. The Anteaters play three of their final five contests at home, where they are 8-2 this season inside the Bren Events Center. UCI’s formula for victory is pretty simple. The team is 7-0 in conference play when holding the opponent under 70 points. UCI is 1-3 when the opponent breaks the 70-point barrier.
After a 3-9 start, CSUN has won eight of its last 12 games. The Matadors have held three of their last five opponents under 60 points after failing to do so in any of their first 19 games. CSUN plays just one game this week, a Wednesday encounter on ESPN3 against Cal Poly. Three straight road games follow, including a pair against UC Davis and UC Irvine that could have title implications. Notably, CSUN is 4-1 on the road in conference games.
Beach, Aggies Tangle On ESPN3
Long Beach State hosts UC Davis Thursday on ESPN3 that it likely must have to stay in the race for the regular season crown. History has favored the Beach in the all-time series. LBSU has won 13 of the last 15 meetings, and has swept the regular season series in six of the last seven years. The lone exception occurred in 2014-15 when the regular season champion Aggies swept LBSU.
Point Club Watch
The next member of the career 1,000-point club is likely going to come from UC Davis. Senior Brynton Lemar, who scored 43 points in two games last week to capture Big West Player of the Week honors, has 960 career points. He looks to become the 22nd player in UC Davis history to hit the 1,000-point mark.
Graham Closes In On 400 Assists
UC Davis senior Darius Graham is the Big West active career assist leader with 393. He is seven helpers away from becoming just the third Aggie in school history to collect 400. Two other Big West players are also honing in on 400 career assists – UC Santa Barbara senior Eric Childress (387) and UC Irvine senior Luke Nelson (383).
Big West Rise Up Tour Continues At Cal State Fullerton
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 State Fullerton on Feb. 18. 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
FEB. 15 – CAL POLY AT CSUN (ESPN3) - CSUN tied a season-high for three-pointers made with nine against UC Santa Barbara, winning for the fourth time in the last five games. Junior Kendall Smith has dished out five or more assists in six consecutive games, with totals of 37 assists and 13 turnovers over that span. Cal Poly has attempted more three-pointers (249) than any other team during Big West play. Guard Victor Joseph has knocked down 30 of his last 34 free throw attempts. PXP: Trent Schlom • COLOR: Richie Schueler • SIDELINE: Courtney Sweet
FEB. 16 – UC DAVIS AT LONG BEACH STATE (ESPN3) - UC Davis has been remarkably consistent in its last four conference victories, limiting the opponent to 65, 64, 65 and 63 points, respectively. The Aggies now confront the challenge of trying to mitigate the high-powered Long Beach State offense, No. 1 in conference play with 81.6 points per game. Junior Roschon Prince, who has grabbed double-digit boards in eight of the last nine games, tied his career high with 14 against Cal State Fullerton. He tops the leaderboard with 10.2 rebounds per game during league play. Chima Moneke of UC Davis is No. 2 at 9.3 per game. PXP: Trent Schlom • COLOR: Richie Schueler • SIDELINE: Sanaz Tavassol
FEB. 16 – HAWAI‘I AT UC SANTA BARBARA (BIGWEST.TV) - Hawai‘i begins a stretch of playing four of its final regular season games on the road. The ‘Bows went 2-0 on their last roadtrip to California. UH senior Noah Allen continues to elevate his play, with at least 18 points in seven of the last nine contests. He’s averaging 22.6 points in those nine games. UC Santa Barbara senior Eric Childress has 28 steals in the last 11 games, with at least two in 10 of the last 11.
FEB. 16 – CAL STATE FULLERTON AT UC RIVERSIDE (BIGWEST.TV) - UC Riverside attempts the season sweep of Cal State Fullerton for the second time in three seasons. The Highlanders have held their opponent to 58.6 points per game in their five conference wins. In their six Big West losses, that figure has risen to 73.7 points per game. The Titans have won three of their last four. Sophomore Khalil Ahmad had a season-high 23 points in his last outing.
BIG WEST BY THE NUMBERS
40 - Points needed for Brynton Lemar to become the 22nd UC Davis player in school history to reach 1,000 in a career
8 - Wins against zero losses for UC Davis at home this season
227 - Career three-pointers for senior Luke Nelson, third all-time at UC Irvine