Mustangs, Gauchos Set for Saturday Showdown on ESPNU, ESPN3.com
COMPLETE PREVIEW AND PLAYER BIOS (pdf)
WATCH LIVE ON ESPN3.COM
VIDEO PREVIEWS: SAM KIRBY | CHRIS EVERSLEY
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – The Cal Poly men's basketball program hits the Big West Conference homestretch beginning with a Saturday, Feb. 25 showdown at central coast rival UC Santa Barbara. Televised nationally on ESPNU and globally on ESPN3.com, tip time for Saturday's matchup inside the Thunderdome is set for 8:05 p.m. Cal Poly (15-13, 6-7), looking to break a two-game overall slide, enters play this week locked in a fourth-place knot in the Big West Conference standings with Pacific (11-15, 6-7). Both the Mustangs and Tigers trail second-place UC Santa Barbara (15-8, 9-3) and Cal State Fullerton (18-7, 9-3) by three-and-a-half games in the conference standings. The Gauchos visit conference-leading Long Beach State on Wednesday, Feb. 22 before hosting Cal Poly.
HOW TO ENJOY MUSTANG BASKETBALL THIS WEEK: Tom Barket returns to the headset to provide play-by-play detail of Cal Poly's Saturday showdown at UC Santa Barbara for GoPoly.com HERE and in San Luis Obispo County on ESPN 1280. Live stats for the game will be available HERE. Josh Suchon will provide play-by-play detail and Mark Adams color commentary for ESPNU and ESPN3.com HERE. In San Luis Obispo County, ESPNU can be seen on DIRECTV (channel 208), DISH Network (141), AT&T Uverse (605) and Charter (179).
MUSTANGS SET TO MAKE HISTORY: Having already matched last season's overall victory total, Cal Poly requires just one additional triumph to post the program's highest win total since finishing 19-11 during the 2006-07 campaign. Cal Poly has never posted a 20-win season through 18 Division I campaigns. After posting a 10-6 mark in Big West play last year, the Mustangs are also looking to finish with a winning conference mark in successive seasons for the first time at the Division I level.
CAL POLY VERSUS UC SANTA BARBARA: The Gauchos have won the previous three meetings against Cal Poly and, overall, own a five-year winning streak against the Mustangs inside the Thunderdome. Cal Poly, which has only posted two victories inside the Thunderdome in 18 Division I seasons, last won on the road against UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 20, 2007 (71-61). Cal Poly's last victory versus UC Santa Barbara – and the program's only win against the Gauchos under third-year head coach Joe Callero – was a 60-57 home triumph on Feb. 27, 2010. Five of the previous six meetings between Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara have been decided by six points or fewer.
POSSESSION IS NINE-TENTHS OF THE WIN: Cal Poly enters Saturday's matchup at UC Santa Barbara ranked 13th among NCAA programs and first among Big West squads with just 10.9 turnovers committed per game. Also 40th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.17-to-1), the Mustangs have finished with a single-digit turnover total 11 times this season.
DEFENSE REMAINS AT THE FOREFRONT: Despite the current two-game slide, Cal Poly enters Saturday's matchup at UC Santa Barbara ranked 44th among NCAA programs in opponent points per game (61.4) as well as leading the Big West in opponent rebounds per game (29.5). 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 13 of 28 games this year. The Mustangs have also held opponents under 30 percent from three-point range a further 11 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 23 of 28 games this year, mass production that has the Mustangs ranked 40th nationally and second among Big West squads in rebounding margin (plus-4.9) entering Saturday's matchup at UC Santa Barbara. Not surprisingly, Cal Poly is 13-6 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) and CSU Bakersfield (Feb. 4).
MUSTANG BOUNCEBACKABILITY: Cal Poly has compiled an 8-4 record this year following a loss and failed to drop more than two successive games during any stretch. Since the start of the 2010-11 season, Cal Poly has posted a 15-11 mark following a defeat.
EVERSLEY'S EVOLUTION: 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 registered double-digit scoring figures during 10 of the program's previous 13 outings and, since Jan. 7, leads Cal Poly with 12.8 points per game. A starter during Cal Poly's last seven games after scoring a career-high 19 points against Cal State Northridge (Jan. 21), Eversley's latest highlight effort was an 18-point endeavor at Northern Colorado (Feb. 18). Eversley has also been a factor on the boards as his first career double-double – an 11-point, 14-rebound effort against UC Riverside (Feb. 9) – included the highest single-game rebounding total by a Mustang in 364 days. In total this year, Eversley has produced six games of 15-plus points and five contests of nine-plus rebounds.
TAYLOR CONTINUES TO RISE TO THE OCCASION: Backed by a team-leading five double-doubles this season, senior forward Will Taylor enters Saturday's matchup at UC Santa Barbara ranked third among Big West players with a 53.6 (112-for-209) percent field goal mark, fourth with 6.9 rebounds per game and 10th with a 77.0 (57-for-74) percent figure from the free throw line. A starter during all 28 of Cal Poly's contests after redshirting last season, Taylor has grabbed seven-plus rebounds in a game 14 times this year, recorded double-digit scoring figures 13 times and shot higher than 60 percent from the floor on 11 occasions.
FERMIN FORGES THE BULLETS FOR CAL POLY TO FIRE: Arguably the Big West's most efficient point guard, senior Amaurys Fermin enters Saturday's matchup at UC Santa Barbara ranked second among conference players in assists (101) and assists per game (3.61) and fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.58-to-1). Fermin, who dispatched a career-high eight assists at DePaul (Dec. 21) and matched it at Northern Colorado (Feb. 18), also ranks second among Mustangs with 16 double-digit scoring games and third with 9.8 points per contest. After redshirting the 2009-10 (transfer) and 2010-11 (injury) seasons, Fermin has started all 28 games for Cal Poly this year.
ROYER'S CATCH AND RELEASE POLICY: The Big West's top three-point threat with a 45.8 (60-for-131) percent mark from the arc, junior guard Dylan Royer would rank ninth among approximately 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). Fifth among Mustangs with 7.4 points per contest, Royer has hit at least one three-pointer during 26 of 28 games this season and knocked down multiple three-pointers 19 times. Royer, who scored 41 combined points between his freshman and sophomore seasons, has registered 207 as a junior. He's also started during 18 of 28 games this year after making just 28 combined appearances (without a start) during his first two seasons.
HANSON'S HIGHLIGHT EFFORTS: Cal Poly's leader with 20 double-digit scoring games after notching just four total points during the program's opening two contests, senior forward David Hanson enters Saturday's matchup at UC Santa Barbara also leading the Mustangs with 11.4 points per contest and ranked second with four double-doubles. Hanson, 14th among Big West players with 5.2 rebounds per game, has recorded double-digit scoring figures during 11 of Cal Poly's previous 14 games.
20-20 VISION: Through 28 contests this season, no Cal Poly player has scored 20 points during a game. During the course of the season, three different Mustangs have registered 19 points in a game: Will Taylor (vs. Menlo College, Dec. 14), Chris Eversley (vs. Cal State Northridge, Jan. 21) and David Hanson (at Pacific, Jan. 26). Additionally, Cal Poly players have posted an 18-point game seven separate times.
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 is again facing another testing schedule during the 2011-12 campaign. Continuing with Saturday's matchup at UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly will play eight regular season games this year 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 a 21-14 overall mark in Mott Gym, a 13-9 record against Big West opposition and, this season alone, allowed just 60.3 points per game.
MUSTANGS REWRITE RECORD BOOK: Cal Poly broke a 23-year-old program record for single-game free throw shooting by sinking 16 of 17 (94.1) attempts during a 77-74 victory against UC Irvine (Feb. 11). The previous record of 93.8 percent was set during a 67-56 home victory against Chapman on Feb. 3, 1989.
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.
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 victories when trailing at halftime this season came at USC on Nov. 19 (trailed, 20-13) and at UC Davis on Jan. 28 (trailed, 39-25) … 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.