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Mustangs Cap Road Trip with Saturday Showdown at UC Riverside

Mustangs Cap Road Trip with Saturday Showdown at UC Riverside


Up Next: Saturday, Jan. 14 (7 p.m.)

Student Recreation Center (Riverside, Calif.)
Audio: Internet: HERE / ESPN 1280 (San Luis Obispo County) / Tom Barket (Play-by-Play)
Live Stats / Streaming Video: HERE
All-Time Series Record: UC Riverside, 42-41
Winning Streak: UC Riverside, 1
Last Meeting: March 10, 2011 (UCR, 70-66, OT; Big West Tournament First Round)
2010-11 Season Series: Cal Poly, 2-1

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The Cal Poly men's basketball program completes a two-game road swing when facing UC Riverside inside the Student Reaction Center on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. The Mustangs (11-6, 2-2), facing five road matchups during their upcoming seven games, earned their first Big West Conference road victory of the year with a 66-50 dismantling of UC Irvine (see below) on Jan. 12. The victory, also Cal Poly's 100th as a Big West member, marked the 15th time in 17 games this year that the Mustangs had outrebounded their opponent (43-34). Cal Poly's Saturday opponent, UC Riverside (9-8, 3-1) slid into second place in the Big West standings on Thursday evening after dealing UC Santa Barbara (7-6, 2-1) a 79-70 overtime defeat. The Highlanders enter Saturday's matchup ranked first among Big West programs in opponent field goal percentage (40.0) and second in opponent points per game (62.9).

FOLLOW THE MUSTANGS THIS WEEK: Tom Barket returns to the headset to provide play-by-play detail of Cal Poly's Saturday matchup for HERE and in San Luis Obispo County on ESPN 1280. Live stats and streaming video for both games are available HERE.

CAL POLY VERSUS UC RIVERSIDE: The Mustangs have swept the last two regular season series from UC Riverside, but it has been the Highlanders who've prevailed when it has mattered most of late, knocking Cal Poly out of the 2011 Big West Tournament with a 70-66 overtime victory (March 10). Two of the past four meetings between the programs have gone to overtime, with the Mustangs prevailing inside the Student Recreation Center in double-overtime two seasons ago, 87-84. Including last season's 65-60 triumph, Cal Poly has prevailed during its last two trips to Riverside. Since the two programs first met on Dec. 22, 1968, UC Riverside owns a 42-41 series advantage.

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 Saturday's matchup at UC Riverside ranked ninth among NCAA programs in opponent points per game (55.7), as well as leading the Big West in opponent three-point percentage (31.3) and opponent rebounds per game (29.1). 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 11 of 17 games this year. The Mustangs have also held opponents under 30 percent from three-point range a further seven 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 15 of 17 games this year, mass production that has the Mustangs ranked 17th nationally in rebounding margin (plus-7.2) entering Saturday's matchup at UC Riverside. Not surprisingly, Cal Poly is 10-3 when outrebounding the opposition with the only defeats coming at DePaul (Dec. 21), versus UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 2) and at Long Beach State (Jan. 5).

POSSESSION IS NINE-TENTHS OF THE WIN: Cal poly enters Saturday's matchup at UC Riverside ranked sixth among NCAA programs with just 10.4 turnovers committed per game. Also 39th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.20-to-1), the Mustangs have finished with a single-digit turnover total during eight of their last 11 games.

DON'T MESS WITH SUCCESS: Cal Poly enters Saturday's matchup at UC Riverside having used the same starting lineup during its last eight contests and produced a 5-3 mark with senior point guard Amaurys Fermin, junior guards Dylan Royer and Drake U'u and senior forwards David Hanson and Will Taylor. In total this season, only seven separate Mustangs have appeared in the starting lineup this season.

TAYLOR CONTINUES TO RISE TO THE OCCASION: With four double-doubles tucked into his back pocket this season – including a 17-point, 11-rebound effort against UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 2) – senior forward Will Taylor enters Saturday's matchup at UC Riverside leading all Big West players with a 54.9 (73-for-133) percent field goal mark while ranking fourth with 7.6 rebounds per game. A starter during all 17 of Cal Poly's contests after redshirting last season, Taylor has grabbed seven-plus rebounds in a game nine times this year, recorded double-digit scoring figures eight times and shot higher than 60 percent from the floor on seven occasions.

HANSON'S HIGHLIGHT EFFORTS: A 16-point, 12-rebound performance during Cal Poly's Jan. 12 win at UC Irvine marked David Hanson's third double-double during Cal Poly's last six games. The program's leader with 12 double-digit scoring games after notching just four total points during Cal Poly's opening two games, Hanson enters Saturday's matchup at UC Riverside leading all Mustangs with 11.2 points per contest and ranked 12th among Big West rebounders with 5.5 boards per game.

FERMIN FORGES THE BULLETS FOR CAL POLY TO FIRE: The Big West's most efficient point guard, senior Amaurys Fermin enters Saturday's matchup at UC Riverside leading all conference players in assists (67) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.78-to-1) while ranking second in assists per game (3.94). Fermin, who matched a career high with eight assists at DePaul (Dec. 21), also ranks second among Mustangs with 11 double-digit scoring games and third with 10.4 points per contest. After redshirting the 2009-10 (transfer) and 2010-11 (injury) seasons, Fermin has started all 17 games for Cal Poly this year.

EVERSLEY GAINING MOMENTUM: Sophomore forward Chris Eversley (above) had recorded just 52 points during his initial 15 games as a Mustang, but the Chicago native and 2010 transfer from Rice exploded for 18 and 11 points, respectively, during Big West victories against Cal State Fullerton (Jan. 7) and at UC Irvine (Jan. 12). Eversley also grabbed a career-high nine rebounds versus Cal State Fullerton.

LAST TIME OUT (JAN. 12): Will Taylor scored a game-high 16 points and David Hanson finished with 16 and 12 rebounds to post his third double-double in six games as Cal Poly earned its first Big West road victory of the season with a 66-50 triumph against UC Irvine inside the Bren Center.

Sophomore forward Chris Eversley finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for the Mustangs (11-6, 2-2), who posted their 100th victory as a member of the Big West and third-successive win at the Bren Center by outrebounding UC Irvine (6-11, 3-2), 43-34, and holding the Anteaters to a 36.2 (21-for-58) percent shooting mark from the floor.

The Mustangs, who produced eight steals to UC Irvine's solitary swipe, held the Anteaters without a bucket for a six-minute stretch late during the second half and closed the game with a 20-7 run.