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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – The Cal Poly men's basketball program matches its lengthiest road trip of the 2011-12 campaign with a four-game stretch that opens on Thursday, Jan. 26 against Pacific inside the Spanos Center and continues on Saturday, Jan. 28 versus UC Davis at The Pavilion. Both matchups tip at 7 p.m. for the Mustangs (12-8, 3-4), who have prevailed just once during three Big West Conference road matchups this year. Pacific (6-12, 2-4) enters Thursday's matchup having been held to 39 points during both matchups against Cal Poly last season while UC Davis (1-17, 0-6), also swept by the Mustangs a year ago, currently allows a Big West-high 75.1 points per contest while ranking second from bottom in points scored per game (61.8).
FOLLOW THE MUSTANGS THIS WEEK: Tom Barket returns to the headset to provide play-by-play detail of both of Cal Poly's upcoming matchups for GoPoly.com HERE and in San Luis Obispo County on ESPN 1280. Live stats and streaming video for both games are also available HERE.
CAL POLY VERSUS PACIFIC: Despite last year's historic 43-39 victory in which Cal Poly held the Tigers to the (then) lowest point total by a Mustang opponent in 26 years, Cal Poly has only produced four victories inside the Spanos Center during 15 visits as a Big West member. Pacific, also stymied to a 58-39 setback by the Mustangs inside Mott Gym a year ago, leads the all-time series, 32-7, since the first meeting between the two programs on Jan. 17, 1947.
CAL POLY VERSUS UC DAVIS: Including last season's 48-43 triumph at UC Davis, Cal Poly has prevailed during four of its previous five visits to The Pavilion. The Mustangs, who swept last season's series against UC Davis, also hold a 29-13 advantage against the Aggies since the first meeting between the two sides on Dec. 30, 1946.
DEAR DIARY: In what ranked as one of the finest offensive displays in Cal Poly program history, the Mustangs registered numerous historic achievements during their 100-54, regionally-televised decimation of Cal State Northridge on Jan. 21:
– Consecutive Three-Pointers: The Mustangs matched a 25-year-old NCAA record by knocking down their first 11 three-point attempts. The Mustangs, 11-for-11 during the first half before finally missing to open the second, equaled sharp-shooting marks established by Niagara (Jan. 7, 1987) and Eastern Kentucky (Jan. 14, 1987).
– Three-Point Percentage, Single Game: Cal Poly's 71.4 (15-for-21) mark from beyond the arc established a new program single-game record.
– Margin of Victory: Cal Poly's highest since dismantling Cal State Monterey Bay, 104-50 (Nov. 30, 2000) – a span of 334 games.
– Point Total: The program's loftiest amount since toppling Hawai'i, 102-89 (Feb. 21, 2010) in an ESPN BracketBuster matchup.
– Home Point Total: Cal Poly's highest total since dismantling Portland State, 100-79 (Nov. 27, 2001) – a span of 306 total games.
– Players in Double-Digit Scoring Figures (Five): Aside from a 91-58 (Dec. 14) victory versus NAIA Menlo, the second time this season Cal Poly reached the total. It also marked the third time under third-year head coach Joe Callero that the Mustangs had managed five double-digit scorers.
DEFENSE REMAINS AT THE FOREFRONT: A year after developing a national reputation for defensive stinginess, the Mustangs remain atop the Big West and NCAA defensive charts. Cal Poly enters Thursday's matchup at Pacific ranked 10th among NCAA programs in opponent points per game (57.0), as well as leading the Big West in opponent three-point percentage (31.5) and opponent rebounds per game (28.6). 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 12 of 20 games this year. The Mustangs have also held opponents under 30 percent from three-point range a further nine times during the 2011-12 season.
CAL POLY TOUGH ON THE BOARDS: Cal Poly has grabbed the same amount of boards or outrebounded its opponent during 18 of 20 games this year, mass production that has the Mustangs ranked 10th nationally in rebounding margin (plus-7.9) entering Thursday's matchup at Pacific. Not surprisingly, Cal Poly is 11-5 this season when outrebounding the opposition with the only defeats coming at DePaul (Dec. 21), versus UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 2) and Long Beach State (Jan. 5, Jan. 19) and at UC Riverside (Jan. 14).
MUSTANGS GRIND 'EM OUT: Cal Poly's 65-46 victory at Fresno State (Dec. 17) marked the 10th time since the start of the 2010-11 campaign that the Mustangs had held an opponent under 50 points while a 47-40 triumph at San Jose State (Dec. 10) marked the 10th time that Cal Poly had kept the combined point total under 100. Since the start of last season, Cal Poly is 9-1 when holding an opponent under 50 points and 6-4 when keeping the combined score under 100.
POSSESSION IS NINE-TENTHS OF THE WIN: Cal poly enters Thursday's matchup at Pacific ranked 10th among NCAA programs with just 10.9 turnovers committed per game. Also 46th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.16-to-1), the Mustangs have finished with a single-digit turnover total during eight of their last 14 games.
DON'T MESS WITH SUCCESS: Cal Poly enters Thursday's matchup at Pacific having made just one change to its starting lineup during the previous 11 games. That revision came prior to the Jan. 19 matchup versus Long Beach State, where sophomore guard and reigning Big West Freshman of the Year honoree Maliik Love spelled junior guard Drake U'u. In total this season, only seven separate Mustangs have made an appearance in the starting lineup.
TAYLOR CONTINUES TO RISE TO THE OCCASION: With five double-doubles tucked into his back pocket this season – including an 18-point, 10-rebound effort against Cal State Northridge (Jan. 21) – senior forward Will Taylor enters Thursday's matchup at Pacific ranked second among Big West players with a 54.3 (88-for-162) percent field goal mark and third with 7.8 rebounds per game. A starter during all 20 of Cal Poly's contests after redshirting last season, Taylor has grabbed seven-plus rebounds in a game 12 times this year, recorded double-digit scoring figures 10 times and shot higher than 60 percent from the floor on eight occasions.
EVERSLEY EMERGING: Sophomore forward Chris Eversley had recorded just 52 points during his initial 15 contests as a Mustang, but the Chicago native and 2010 transfer from Rice has reached double-digit scoring figures and averaged a team-leading 13.8 points per Cal Poly's last five games. After scoring 18 points against Cal State Fullerton (Jan. 7), Eversley's latest highlight effort was a 19-point, nine-rebound effort in 15 minutes of work versus Cal State Northridge (Jan. 21).
FERMIN FORGES THE BULLETS FOR CAL POLY TO FIRE: The Big West's most efficient point guard, senior Amaurys Fermin enters Thursday's matchup at Pacific leading all conference players in assists (74) and ranking second in assists per game (3.70) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.68-to-1). Fermin, who matched a career high with eight assists at DePaul (Dec. 21), also ranks second among Mustangs with 14 double-digit scoring games and third with 10.6 points per contest. After redshirting the 2009-10 (transfer) and 2010-11 (injury) seasons, Fermin has started all 20 games for Cal Poly this year.
HANSON'S HIGHLIGHT EFFORTS: A 16-point, 12-rebound performance during Cal Poly's Jan. 12 victory at UC Irvine marked senor forward David Hanson's third double-double during Cal Poly's last nine games. The program's leader with 15 double-digit scoring games after notching just four total points during Cal Poly's opening two games, Hanson enters Thursday's matchup at Pacific leading all Mustangs with 11.4 points per contest and ranking 11th among Big West rebounders with 5.5 boards per game.
ROYER KEEPS THE HOT HAND: The Big West's top three-point threat with a 53.2 (42-for-79) percent mark from the arc, junior guard Dylan Royer would rank second among 4,225 Division I players had he met the NCAA statistical minimum of 2.5 made three-pointers per game. The only central coast native on Cal Poly's roster, Royer has twice knocked down a career-high five three-pointers this season: versus Mississippi Valley State (5-for-7, Nov. 26) and Sacramento State (5-for-5, Nov. 30). Fourth among Mustangs with 7.3 points per contest, Royer has hit at least one three-pointer in 20 of his last 21 games and knocked down multiple three-pointers on 13 occasions this season. Royer, who scored 41 combined points between his freshman and sophomore seasons, has already registered 145 as a junior. He's also started during 11 of 20 games this year after making just 28 combined appearances during his first two seasons.
MUSTANGS ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES: Cal Poly has compiled a 6-2 record this year following a loss and just twice this season have the Mustangs dropped consecutive games. Since the start of the 2010-11 season, Cal Poly has posted a 13-9 mark following a defeat.
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 Feb. 25 road clash at UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly will play seven games this season against programs that qualified for either the 2011 NCAA Tournament or NIT.
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 an 19-14 overall mark in Mott Gym, a 11-9 record against Big West opposition and, this season alone, allowed just 59.8 points per game.
HAWAI'I AND SAN DIEGO STATE SET TO JOIN BIG WEST CONFERENCE: Cal Poly's number of conference games will swell to 18 next season and 20 for the 2013-14 campaign with the successive additions of Hawai'i and San Diego State to the Big West. Previously a member of the Big West from 1984-96, Hawai'i will resume official competition during the 2012-13 campaign with San Diego State – an original conference member (1969-78) – set to rejoin the following year. Both schools will compete in every sport in which the Big West sponsors a championship.
MUSTANGS SIGN THREE FOR 2012-13 CAMPAIGN: Joe Callero and the Mustang Athletics Department increased Cal Poly's collective height and strengthened the program's collective depth on Nov. 9 with the joint announcement that 6-7 Zachary Allmon (San Luis Obispo, Calif. / Mission College Prep), 6-9 Brian Bennett (Romeoville, Ill. / Plainfield East HS) and 6-8 Josh Hall (Brush Prarie, Wash. / St. John's Northwestern Military Academy) each signed National Letters of Intent to join the Mustangs for the 2012-13 campaign. As a junior during the 2010-11 campaign, Allmon averaged 12.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game for a Mission Prep side that reached the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5-AA semifinals. An All-San Luis Obispo County first team selection last season, Allmon also served as a captain for the Royals. Bennett helped lead Plainfield East HS to the program's first victory in the Illinois State Tournament during the 2010-11 season. Ranked among the Southwest Prairie Conference's leaders in both field goal and free throw percentage, Bennett has been named to the honor roll during each of his semesters at Plainfield East HS. Hall is attending St. John's Northwestern Military Academy (Delafield, Wisc.) following a standout career at Hockinson HS. Hall earned All-Washington first team praise and was named Most Valuable Player of the Greater St. Helens League as a senior during the 2010-11 campaign after averaging more than 20 points per game and leading the Hawks to a conference championship. A four-year All-Greater St. Helens League first team honoree, Hall owns half of Hockinson's school scoring records, including career points (1,571).
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 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) … 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 … a 58-57 Big West Conference-opening loss against UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 2) marked Cal Poly's 500th game at the Division I level … Cal Poly's 65-50 triumph at UC Irvine (Jan. 12) marked the program's 100th Big West victory.
Mustang Men's Basketball Heads North to Battle Pacific and UC Davis
COMPLETE PREVIEW AND PLAYER BIOS (pdf)