Mustangs Back Home to Host Cal State Fullerton, UC Riverside
COMPLETE WEEKLY PREVIEW (pdf)
VIDEO PREVIEWS: MITCH REAVES | CHRIS EVERSLEY
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – The Cal Poly men's basketball program looks to climb back into the Big West Conference regular season title race and snap a three-game slide inside the Mott Athletics Center when hosting Cal State Fullerton on Thursday, Feb. 20 and UC Riverside on Saturday, Feb. 22. Both games tip at 7 p.m. for Cal Poly (9-15, 5-6), which remained fifth in the Big West standings following last week's road split that comprised a 62-55 victory at Cal State Northridge (Feb. 13) and a 74-65 loss at Long Beach State (Feb. 15). With five regular season contests remaining, Cal Poly trails third-place Hawai'i (18-7, 7-4) and Long Beach State (11-14, 7-4) by two games in the Big West standings. The Mustangs, who enter the week ranked 39th among NCAA Division I programs with just 63.9 points allowed per game, have not finished lower than fourth in the Big West standings since the 2009-10 season. Offensively, Cal Poly has cracked the 62-point scoring barrier just once in the previous nine games.
HOW TO ENJOY MUSTANG BASKETBALL THIS WEEK: Tom Barket returns to the radio mic to provide play-by-play detail of Thursday's game against Cal State Fullerton and Saturday's matchup versus UC Riverside for GoPoly.com HERE and in San Luis Obispo County on ESPN 1280. Both pre-game shows get underway at 6:45 p.m. Live stats and streaming video of both matchups will also be available through GoPoly.com HERE.
CAL POLY VERSUS CAL STATE FULLERTON: Cal Poly, which produced a 58-56 win at Cal State Fullerton (Jan. 23), has won the last three home matchups against the Titans dating to the 2010-11 season. The Mustangs, who edged the Titans 62-60 in last year's matchup inside the Mott Athletics Center, lead both the all-time (35-24) and Division I series (20-16).
CAL POLY VERSUS UC RIVERSIDE: Cal Poly's 61-58 loss at UC Riverside (Jan. 25) snapped the program's four-game winning streak against the Highlanders, but the Mustangs remain overwhelmingly dominant at home. Alongside Hawai'i and Cal State Northridge, UC Riverside ranks as one of three Big West programs to never have won inside the Mott Athletics Center during fifth-year Mustang head coach Joe Callero's tenure.
STOPPAGE TIME: Cal Poly finished the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons as one of the top-25 defensive teams in Division I and the Mustangs are back to their stifling ways this year. Ranked 39th nationally and the Big West leader with just 63.9 points allowed per game, Cal Poly has held an opponent under 65 points in 14 of 24 games this year and in 28 of the past 40 contests dating to the 2012-13 season.
EVERSLEY REMAINS CAL POLY'S CATALYST: A member of the Preseason All-Big West Team, senior forward Chris Eversley's latest highlight performance was 17-point, 11-rebound effort at Cal State Northridge (Feb. 13) – figures that helped comprise his third double-double of the year, 11th of his career, team-leading 15th double-digit scoring game, 49th career double-digit outing and boosted his per-game scoring average to a 13.1 figure that ranks 13th among Big West players. Also sixth among Big West competitors with a team-best 7.3 rebounds per game, Eversley matched a career high with 15 rebounds versus Santa Clara (Dec. 7) and has grabbed seven-plus rebounds in a game 14 times. Other spotlight offensive performances this year include double-doubles against Pacific (Nov. 30; 22 points, 10 rebounds) and UC Irvine (Feb. 2; 14 points, 10 rebounds), a season-high 25-point effort at Stanford (Dec. 29), 21 points at Loyola Marymount (Dec. 17) and 17 points at No. 5/6 Arizona (Nov. 8) and versus UC Davis (Jan. 30). One of 30 national candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes excelled performance in the areas of community, classroom, character and competition, Eversley has started 55 of Cal Poly's last 58 games dating to the 2011-12 season.
EVERSLEY MAKING HISTORY: One of the top all-around competitors in Cal Poly program history, Chris Eversley became the 21st Mustang to reach 1,000 career points after scoring 17 against UC Davis (Jan. 30). Currently 20th all-time with 1,049 points in just three years, Eversley also ranks ninth in program history with 544 rebounds and, for his career, is averaging 11.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per 88 career games as a Mustang.
NWABA TRANSFERS SUCCESS: Seventh among Big West players and ranked 57th in Division I with a 53.5 (100-for-187) percent field goal mark, sophomore wing David Nwaba has shot higher than 70 percent from the floor in eight games this season and enters Thursday's matchup versus Cal State Fullerton second among Mustangs with 11.5 points per contest. An offseason transfer from Santa Monica College, Nwaba's latest highlight effort includes a 12-point performance at Hawai'i (Feb. 8). Already this year, Nwaba has scored a career-high 22 points against Cal State Dominguez Hills (Dec. 14), 21 points versus Santa Clara (Dec. 7), 17 against Hawai'i (Jan. 9) and at UC Riverside (Jan. 25) and notched 12 in his Cal Poly debut at No. 5/6 Arizona (Nov. 8). Nwaba, who has started 23 of 24 games for Cal Poly this year, has compiled 14 double-digit scoring games.
JOHNSON FORGES THE BULLETS FOR CAL POLY TO FIRE: Solidified by a seven-assist performance against Nevada (Nov. 12) and six versus Hawai'i (Jan. 9) and Cal State Northridge (Jan. 16), senior guard Jamal Johnson enters Thursday's bout versus Cal State Fullerton ranked third among Big West players in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.23-to-1) and 11th in assists per game (2.88). Johnson also owns a 2.82-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in 11 Big West contests. Ranked seventh in Cal Poly program history with 278 assists, Johnson owns a career 1.97-to-1 (278-to-141) assist-to-turnover ratio. Offensively, Johnson scored a career-high 15 points against Hawai'i (Jan. 9), added 13 points versus North Dakota (Nov. 29) and 12 at Cal State Fullerton (Jan. 23) to solidify three Cal Poly wins.
AWICH OUT OF THE STARTING BLOCKS: A starter in Cal Poly's last 12 games, sophomore forward Joel Awich enters Thursday's contest versus Cal State Fullerton ranked fifth among Big West players with 1.21 blocks per game. Already this season, Awich has blocked a career-best four shots against Cal State Northridge (Jan. 16) and added three versus Long Beach State (Jan. 18) and at Pitt (Dec. 21). With a team-leading 29 blocks this season – the highest total by a Mustang in five years – Awich, in just one-and-a-half collegiate seasons, already ranks eighth in program history with 43 blocks. Offensively, Awich's standout game this year is a career-best 11-point performance at Stanford (Dec. 29).
ODISTER PROPELS CAL POLY'S LONG-RANGE GAME: Fueled by a season-high 21-point effort at No. 5/6 Arizona (Nov. 8) that included a career-best seven three-pointers, 14-point games versus Cal State Northridge (Jan. 16, Feb. 13) and a 13-point performance at Pitt (Dec. 21), senior guard Kyle Odister enters Thursday's matchup versus Cal State Fullerton third among Mustangs with 10.0 points per contest. Also third among Big West players with 2.43 three-pointers per game and ninth with a 35.9 (51-for-142) percent three-point mark, Odister is a 39.0 (165-for-423) percent career three-point shooter. His 165 career three-pointers rank as the sixth–best total in Mustang program history while his 423 attempts rank seventh.
HOME IS WHERE THE WINS ARE: A year after posting a 13-1 mark inside the Mott Athletics Center to register program records for single season home victories and winning percentage (.929), Cal Poly is 5-4 at home this season and has won 17 of its previous 21 home games. Under fifth-year head coach Joe Callero, Cal Poly is 41-20 (67.2 percent) inside the Mott Athletics Center, 26-12 (68.4 percent) in Big West contests and has won 16 of its previous 19 home games against conference opponents. In support of Cal Poly's winning ways, the Mustangs have experienced a 31.4 percent increase in attendance between the 2008-09 campaign (the final season prior to Callero's central coast arrival) and last season's average of 2,066 fans per home contest.
ONE AND DONE: Cal Poly's 72-64 win at UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 11) – the program's first inside The Thunderdome in seven seasons – guaranteed that a Joe Callero-coached Mustang squad has prevailed in every Big West Conference venue.
JOIN CAL POLY MEN'S BASKETBALL, SEE THE WORLD: Few teams, if any, will log more miles this year than the Mustangs, who are expected to travel approximately 23,095 miles during the 2013-14 season. Cal Poly's schedule includes two trips to the east coast (Pittsburgh, Delaware), one to Hawai'i, games in six different states (including the program's first appearances in Pennsylvania and Delaware) and four first-time opponents (Oregon, Pitt, Delaware and Bethesda).
MUSTANGS FACE ANOTHER TESTING SCHEDULE: Labeling it the "most prestigious and geographically-challenging schedule that we've ever put together," fifth-year head coach Joe Callero and his Mustangs will play 11 games this year against programs that qualified for postseason play a season ago.
ETC.: Cal Poly fell to 8-12 in season-opening contests at the Division I level, 2-9 in road season openers and 2-3 in season openers under fifth-year head coach Joe Callero following a 72-63 loss at No. 5 Arizona (Nov. 8) … Cal Poly's season opener at No. 5 Arizona (Nov. 8) came against the highest ranked opponent in Mustang program history … Cal Poly's Nov. 8 matchup at Arizona's McKale Center drew 14,545 spectators, the largest attendance figure for a Mustang men's basketball game since 17,230 fans packed Wisconsin's Kohl Center on Dec. 16, 2009 … Cal Poly's 60-58 loss against Nevada (Nov. 12) snapped a 12-game home winning streak inside the Mott Athletics Center … the 39 points allowed to Bethesda (Nov. 23) were the fewest by a Mustang opponent since Cal Poly topped Pacific at home on March 3, 2012 (67-38) … during the victory against Bethesda, the Flames failed to attempt a free throw – the first time the feat had occurred under Joe Callero … Cal Poly's Nov. 29 contest against North Dakota marked Joe Callero's 400th NCAA game as a head coach … Cal Poly improved to 31-1 against non-Division I opposition and 6-1 under Joe Callero with an 85-49 victory against Division II Cal State Dominguez Hills (Dec. 14) … Cal Poly's 73-56 loss at Pitt (Dec. 21) marked the program's first game in the state of Pennsylvania and just the third overall game against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent … Cal Poly's 82-72 loss at Delaware (Jan. 4) marked the program's first game in the state of Delaware … Cal Poly improved to 7-11 all-time in Big West openers, 3-7 in Big West openers at home and 3-2 in Big West openers under Joe Callero following a 77-65 triumph against Hawai'i (Jan. 9) … Cal Poly's 63-62 home loss against Long Beach State (Jan. 18) snapped a program-record 16-game home winning streak against Big West opponents … the 3,032-fan figure for Cal Poly's Feb. 2 home game against UC Irvine marked the first sellout inside the Mott Athletics Center since a Jan. 2, 2012 matchup versus UC Santa Barbara (a streak of 29 home games).