Mustang Men's Basketball Visits San Jose State for Saturday Showdown

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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Winners of three of the last four contests, the Cal Poly men's basketball program looks to match its best start at the Division I level and complete a season sweep of San Jose State when visiting the Spartans inside the Event Center on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. A victory will provide Cal Poly (5-3) its best start to any Division I season since the 2001-02 Mustang squad won six of their first nine contests. Behind a career-high 17 points from senior point guard Amaurys Fermin (above), Cal Poly took round No. 1 from the Spartans (3-5) on Nov. 12 with a 79-52 season-opening victory inside Mott Gym. San Jose State plays at California on Wednesday, Dec. 7 prior to hosting Cal Poly.

FOLLOW THE MUSTANGS THIS WEEK: Tom Barket returns to the headset to provide play-by-play detail of Cal Poly's Saturday matchup at San Jose State for GoPoly.com HERE and in San Luis Obispo County on ESPN 1280. Livestats and streaming video of the matchup are also available HERE.

CAL POLY VERSUS SAN JOSE STATE: With victories separated by 53 seasons, Cal Poly has prevailed just twice (Feb. 6, 1953; Nov. 25, 2005) on the road against the Spartans in seven trips north. In fact, Cal Poly's 79-52 victory against the Spartans earlier this season was just the program's third triumph versus San Jose State in 18 all-time matchups. Cal Poly's last trip to San Jose State resulted in a 80-63 loss on Dec. 3, 2006. 

ROYER RANKS NO. 1 FROM DOWNTOWN: In sinking his last seven three-point attempts and 11 of the previous 13, junior guard Dylan Royer – ahead of approximately 4,224 players – has positioned himself as the top three-point shooter in Division I basketball. Royer, whose 66.7 (20-for-30) percent mark edges Wagner senior guard Tyler Murray (23-for-36; 63.9 percent), has twice this season hit five three-pointers to help Cal Poly past Mississippi Valley State (Nov. 26) and Sacramento State (Nov. 30). Royer, fourth among Mustangs with 8.1 points per contest, has hit multiple three-pointers in five of eight games this season. His growing point total this season (65) will soon eclipse his previous two years combined (41).

DEFENSE REMAINS AT THE FOREFRONT: A year after developing a national reputation for defensive stinginess, the Mustangs remain atop the Big West Conference and NCAA defensive charts. Cal Poly enters Saturday's matchup at San Jose State ranked 17th among NCAA programs in opponent points per game (56.1) while also leading the Big West in opponent three-point percentage (29.5) and opponent rebounds per game (27.3). Highlighted by limiting USC to 36 points on Nov. 19 – the fewest points scored by a Cal Poly opponent in 18 years at the Division I level – the Mustangs have held foes under 60 points during five of eight games this year. The Mustangs have also held opponents under 30 percent from three-point range a further five times.

MUSTANGS TOUGH ON THE BOARDS: Cal Poly has grabbed the same amount of boards or outrebounded its opponent in six of eight games this year, production that has the Mustangs ranked 34th nationally in rebounding margin (plus-7.5) entering Saturday's contest at San Jose State. Not surprisingly, Cal Poly is 5-0 when outrebounding the opposition.

FERMIN WORTH THE WAIT: Redshirting the previous two seasons hasn't hampered Amaurys Fermin, who enters Saturday's matchup at San Jose State leading all Big West players in assists (33) and assists per game (4.13). Fermin, who handed out a career-high eight assists against Mississippi Valley State (Nov. 26), also ranks second among Big West players with a 1.74-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and second among Mustangs with 10.6 points per contest.

TAYLOR RISES TO THE OCCASION: Having already notched career single-game scoring (16, Nov. 16) and rebounding (13, Nov. 12) highs, senior forward Will Taylor – who redshirted the 2010-11 season – enters Saturday's matchup at San Jose State ranked second among Mustangs in field goal percentage (56.6) and ninth among Big West players with a team-leading 6.3 rebounds per game. A starter in all eight of Cal Poly's games, Taylor has shot better than 60 percent from the floor, recorded double-digit scoring figures and grabbed six-plus rebounds during a game on four separate occasions this year. 

HANSON RETURNS TO FORM: Held to just four total points during Cal Poly's initial two contests, senior forward David Hanson enters Saturday's matchup at San Jose State having reached double-digit scoring figures in five of the program's last six contests. Cal Poly's leading returning scorer from last year, Hanson currently paces the Mustangs with 11.0 points per game.

HANSON ON VERGE OF HISTORY: David Hanson requires just 33 additional points to become the third Mustang in as many seasons and the 17th player in program history to notch 1,000 career points. Hanson, who finished eighth among Big West players last year with 455 total points and 15.2 per 30 games, is currently sixth among active conference players in career points. Guard Shawn Lewis completed his four-year Mustang career last year as the seventh-leading scorer in program history with 1,304 points while guard Lorenzo Keeler (2007-10) ended his tenure ranked No. 11 with 1,157 points.

IF IT AIN'T BROKE … : Cal Poly's Nov. 22 loss at UNLV marked the only time head coach Joe Callero has deviated from his starting five of guards Amaurys Fermin, Maliik Love and Drake U'u and forwards David Hanson and Will Taylor. The Mustangs are 5-2 this year when that quintuplet starts.

MUSTANGS FACE NATION'S FINEST IN 2011-12: In what has become a hallmark of head coach Joe Callero's three-season tenure, Cal Poly will again face another testing schedule during the 2011-12 campaign. Continuing with a Jan. 2 clash against UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly will play seven games this season against programs that qualified for either the 2011 NCAA Tournament or NIT.

MUSTANGS RETURN TO THE SMALL SCREEN: A year after making a program-record five television appearances, the Mustangs are scheduled to appear on TV a further four times during the 2011-12 campaign. Below is a listing of Cal Poly's 2011-12 television schedule, including tentative dates.

Jan. 2–UC Santa Barbara (KSBY-TV)
Jan. 21–Cal State Northridge (PRIME)
Feb. 18–ESPNU BracketBuster (Pending)
Feb. 25–at UC Santa Barbara (ESPNU)
March 3–Pacific (KSBY-TV)
March 9–Big West Tournament semifinal (ESPNU)
March 10–Big West Tournament championship (ESPN2)

WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE: Cal Poly's 14 home games this season are the most contests inside Mott Gym since the program hosted 16 opponents during the 1999-00 campaign. Under Joe Callero, Cal Poly has posted a 15-12 overall mark in Mott Gym, a 9-7 record against Big West opposition and, this season alone, allowed just 55.5 points per game.

HAWAI'I SAYS ALOHA TO BIG WEST CONFERENCE: The Big West Conference Board of Directors announced the addition of Hawai'i as the conference's 10th member institution on Dec. 10, 2010. Previously a member of the Big West from 1984-96, Hawai'i will begin official conference competition during the 2012-13 campaign.

LOOKING AHEAD: Cal Poly makes a brief return to the central coast to host NAIA Menlo College on Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. Members of the California Pacific Conference, Menlo (2-8) visits Division III UC Santa Cruz on Dec. 10. Cal Poly has won all three matchups versus Menlo at the Division I level.

ETC.: Cal Poly improved to 9-9 in season-opening contests at the Division I level with a 79-52 victory against San Jose State (Nov. 12) … Cal Poly's 27-point margin of victory against San Jose State (Nov. 12) was the program's largest disparity under third-year head coach Joe Callero and the program's largest since hammering North Florida on Nov. 21, 2008, 76-42 … Cal Poly's lone victory when trailing at halftime this season was a 42-36 triumph at USC on Nov 19 (the Mustangs trailed at the break, 20-13) … Cal Poly's lone defeat when leading at halftime was a 59-54 home defeat against Saint Mary's (the Mustangs led at the break, 26-25) ... the Mustangs have compiled the same amount or more fouls than their opponents during all eight games this season …  Cal Poly's Nov. 22 matchup at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center drew 12,061 spectators, the largest attendance figure for the Mustangs since 17,230 fans packed Wisconsin's Kohl Center on Dec. 16, 2009 … Cal Poly's 62-61 victory against Morgan State (Nov. 25) was the program's 200th triumph at the Division I level.