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Men's Basketball

Hawai'i Hosts 10th Annual Diamond Head Classic



Weekly Release No. 7

A slew of men's basketball non-conference games awaits this week, culminating with the 10th annual Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.  Host Hawai‘i battles UNLV in the first round.


UC Irvine Hits Double-Digit Win Total
UC Irvine’s 10 wins in 12 tries represents the school’s fastest march to double-digit victories since 2000-01 when that club also was 10-2 through 12 games.  The 2000-01 team was 17-2 before losing a third game.

Road Warriors
UCI’s win at Cal Baptist on December 5 represented its ninth straight in true road games, the nation’s second-longest current streak behind Virginia’s 10.  The Anteaters won their last five road games of the 2017-18 season and are 4-0 in hostile arenas this year.  UCI’s next road tilt is Wednesday, December 19 at Eastern Michigan (ESPN+).  The ‘Eaters continue their three-game road trip at Butler (FS1) on Friday, December 21.

Winning Formula Is Defense
UCI improved to 6-0 on the season when limiting the opponent to 60 points or less, achieving that standard in an 86-52 triumph over Denver on Saturday.  Defense is the cornerstone of head coach Russell Turner’s program, and the benchmark for success over the last six-plus seasons.  Consider that the Anteaters are an impressive 85-5 since 2012-13 when an opponent fails to exceed 60 points.  The year-by-year record:

2012-13 - 12-0
2013-14 - 17-0              
2014-15 - 15-2   
2015-16 - 10-0
2016-17 - 14-3
2017-18 - 11-0
2018-19 - 6-0

UC Santa Barbara Stays Hot
UC Santa Barbara’s 99-89 overtime victory at Rice improved the team to 8-2, the second straight season the Gauchos have done so under head coach Joe Pasternack.  Through Pasternack’s first 42 games on the UCSB sidelines, the program is 31-11 overall.  That is the best 42-game stretch for the Gauchos since going 22-8 in 1987-88 and opening the 1988-89 campaign 11-1, a combined mark of 33-9.  UCSB’s needs two wins – at Omaha on Wednesday and home versus Idaho State on Saturday – to match the program’s best start since the 2007-08 team opened 10-2.

Heidegger’s Return A Triumphant One
Junior guard Max Heidegger, an All-Big West First Team choice in 2017-18 who averaged 19.1 points per game, returned to the floor against Rice after missing the first nine games due to a concussion.  In 29 minutes of play, Heidegger tied for team-high scoring honors with 22 points.

Road Unkind
Between UCI (4-0) and UCSB (2-2), the Big West has experienced some measure of success in road games this season.  The rest of the league has struggled to win in enemy territory, with the other seven schools going a combined 1-31 in true road games – CSUN’s win at Pepperdine on Dec. 3 the outlier.  Six schools are still seeking their first road win.  Cal Poly (0-5, at CSU Bakersfield), Cal State Fullerton (0-5, at Nebraska) and UC Davis (0-4, at Arizona) look to pick up wins in the road column this week.


Big West squads have lined up another challenging non-conference slate which includes a minimum of 24 games against opponents which advanced to the NCAA Tournament or National Invitational Tournament last season.  Thirteen out of 14 games scheduled against 2018 NCAA teams will be played on the road or at a neutral site.  In fact, all but the Dec. 8 Montana at UC Irvine game will not be played at a Big West home facility.  The possibility to play additional games against 2018 postseason teams is dependent on the outcomes of several tournaments within the first couple of months.

Games Against 2018 NCAA Tournament Teams
Nov. 6     Cal State Fullerton at Arizona State
Nov. 9     Long Beach State at UCLA
Nov. 9     UC Irvine at Texas A&M
Nov. 11   Cal Poly at Arizona
Nov. 12   Long Beach State at Arizona State
Nov. 12   UC Davis at Arkansas
Nov. 19   Long Beach State vs. Iona
Nov. 23   Hawai‘i vs. Seton Hall
Nov. 28   Hawai‘i at UCLA
Dec. 8     Montana at UC Irvine
Dec. 19   CSUN at New Mexico State
Dec. 21   UC Irvine at Butler
Dec. 22   UC Davis at Arizona   
Jan. 1      CSUN at San Diego State

Games Against 2018 NIT Teams
Nov. 16    Long Beach State at Mississippi State
Nov. 22    Hawai‘i vs. Utah
Nov. 28    UC Irvine at Saint Mary’s
Nov. 28    Long Beach State at USC
Dec. 2      UC Santa Barbara at Washington
Dec. 10    Cal State Fullerton at Saint Mary’s
Dec. 22    Cal State Fullerton at Nebraska
Dec. 29    Long Beach State at Stanford
Dec. 30    UC Davis at USC
Jan. 1      Cal State Fullerton at Washington

Long Beach State’s DAN MONSON is the dean of Big West head coaches, entering his 12th season roaming the sidelines of the Walter Pyramid.  He ranks eighth all-time in conference history with 188 wins, while his 114 Big West victories is sixth all-time.  Only five Big West head coaches have accumulated 200 or more wins during their tenure with the conference – Bob Thomason (Pacific, 436), Jerry Tarkanian (Long Beach State & UNLV, 405), Bob Williams (UC Santa Barbara, 313), Neil McCarthy (New Mexico State, 248) and Jerry Pimm (UC Santa Barbara, 222).  Monson has won a minimum of 15 games in each of the last 10 seasons, needing that total to get to 200 for his career during the 2018-19 campaign.  Monson needs seven wins to catch Fresno State’s Boyd Grant (194) and 10 to surpass UC Irvine’s Pat Douglass (197) in the Big West record book.

RUSSELL TURNER notched his 164th win all-time at UC Irvine when his team defeated Saint Mary’s on Nov. 28, moving him past Bill Mulligan for second place on the career wins list at the school.  He now needs to surpass Pat Douglass (197, 1997-2010) for the record.  In addition, Turner is now tied with Utah State’s Stew Morrill for ninth in Big West history with 167 career victories.  Turner is on pace to become the third-fastest coach in league history to reach the 200-win mark, with Jerry Tarkanian and Neil McCarthy the only two Turner could not outdo.  The ninth-year coach has led the Anteaters to 20-win campaigns in five of the last six seasons.


Coach, Team Years Wins
Bob Thomason, Pacific 25 436
Jerry Tarkanian, Long Beach State/UNLV 14 405
Bob Williams, UC Santa Barbara 19 313
Neil McCarthy, New Mexico State 12 248
Jerry Pimm, UC Santa Barbara 15 222
Pat Douglass, UC Irvine 13 197
Boyd Grant, Fresno State 9 194
Dan Monson, Long Beach State 12 188
Stew Morrill, Utah State 7 167
Russell Turner, UC Irvine 9 167

After opening the season ranked No. 24 in the preseason Mid-Major Top 25 poll, UC Irvine enters the week at a season-best No. 13.  The Anteaters are riding a six-week run inside the top 25, and have been no lower than their preseason ranking.  Other conference schools have been recognized in the “others receiving votes” section of the poll – Cal State Fullerton, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara and Hawai‘i.  UCSB reentered the receiving votes portion of the poll after a one-week hiatus.

The top two active career scorers in the Big West have accumulated in excess of 2,500 points at Cal State Fullerton.  Seniors KHALIL AHMAD (1,343) and KYLE ALLMAN, JR. (1,285) have scored 2,628 points for the Titans.