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Mustangs Host Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge in PRIME Matchups

Mustangs Host Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge in PRIME Matchups





SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Prior to embarking on a four-game road trip, the Cal Poly men's basketball program (11-7, 2-3) hosts Big West Conference-leading Long Beach State (12-6, 5-0) on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. before welcoming Cal State Northridge (5-10, 2-3) into Mott Gym on Saturday, Jan. 21 for a 5:05 p.m. matchup that will be televised live on FOX PRIME Ticket. Winners of eight of the previous nine contests – including a 55-50 decision against Cal Poly (Jan. 5) – Long Beach State leads all Big West programs in rebounds per game (38.9) and ranks second in field goal percentage (46.6). Winners of just two of the previous six games, Cal State Northridge ranks last among Big West programs in field goal (37.2) and three-point (29.9) percentage.

Tom Barket returns to the headset to provide play-by-play detail of both of Cal Poly's upcoming matchups for HERE and in San Luis Obispo County on ESPN 1280. Live stats for both games will be available HERE with streaming video also provided for the Jan. 19 Long Beach State matchup. Ron Pitts will handle play-by-play detail and Michael Cage color commentary for FOX PRIME Ticket of Saturday's matchup versus Cal State Northridge.

With Thursday's matchup against Long Beach State, Cal Poly will have completed its season series against the 49ers before having faced fellow conference foes Cal State Northridge, Pacific or UC Davis once. The next possible matchup between Cal Poly and Long Beach would occur during the March 8 first round of the Big West Tournament– 49 days in the future. 

Despite 16 points and nine rebounds from senior forward Will Taylor, Cal Poly's slide against Long Beach State was lengthened to five-successive defeats with a 55-50 loss against the 49ers inside the Walter Pyramid on Jan. 5. Behind 22 points from David Hanson, Cal Poly's last victory against Long Beach State was a 90-79 road triumph on Jan. 16, 2010. Cal Poly's last home victory against the 49ers was a 64-52 decision on Jan. 5, 2008. Long Beach State leads the all-time series, 38-28.

Despite splitting the last two regular season series against Cal State Northridge, the Mustangs have won each home matchup against the Matadors, including last season's crushing 72-49 triumph on Feb. 16, 2011. Overall, Cal Poly enjoys a 45-41 series advantage against the Matadors since the first matchup between the two programs on Feb. 5, 1960.

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 versus Long Beach State ranked ninth among NCAA programs in opponent points per game (55.9), as well as leading the Big West in opponent three-point percentage (31.0) and opponent rebounds per game (29.0). 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 18 games this year. The Mustangs have also held opponents under 30 percent from three-point range a further eight times during the 2011-12 season.

Cal Poly has grabbed the same amount of boards or outrebounded its opponent during 16 of 18 games this year, mass production that has the Mustangs ranked 17th nationally in rebounding margin (plus-7.3) entering Thursday's matchup versus Long Beach State. Not surprisingly, Cal Poly is 10-4 when outrebounding the opposition with the only defeats coming at DePaul (Dec. 21), versus UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 2), at Long Beach State (Jan. 5) and at UC Riverside (Jan. 14).

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.

Cal poly enters Thursday's matchup versus Long Beach State ranked eighth among NCAA programs with just 10.5 turnovers committed per game. Also 47th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.15-to-1), the Mustangs have finished with a single-digit turnover total during eight of their last 12 games.

Cal Poly enters Thursday's matchup versus Long Beach State having used the same starting lineup during its last nine contests and produced a 5-4 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 made an appearance in the starting lineup.

With four double-doubles tucked into his back pocket this season – including a 17-point, 11-rebound effort against UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 2) – Will Taylor enters Thursday's matchup versus Long Beach State leading all Big West players with a 53.6 (75-for-140) percent field goal mark while ranking fourth with 7.7 rebounds per game. A starter during all 18 of Cal Poly's contests after redshirting last season, Taylor has grabbed seven-plus rebounds in a game 10 times this year, recorded double-digit scoring figures eight times and shot higher than 60 percent from the floor on seven occasions.

The Big West's most efficient point guard, Amaurys Fermin enters Thursday's matchup versus Long Beach State leading all conference players in assists (69) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.77-to-1) while ranking second in assists per game (3.83). Fermin, who matched a career high with eight assists at DePaul (Dec. 21), also ranks second among Mustangs with 12 double-digit scoring games and 10.6 points per contest. After redshirting the 2009-10 (transfer) and 2010-11 (injury) seasons, Fermin has started all 18 games for Cal Poly this year.

A 16-point, 12-rebound performance during Cal Poly's Jan. 12 victory at UC Irvine marked David Hanson's third double-double during Cal Poly's last seven games. The program's leader with 13 double-digit scoring games after notching just four total points during Cal Poly's opening two games, Hanson enters Thursday's matchup versus Long Beach State leading all Mustangs with 11.2 points per contest and ranked 14th among Big West rebounders with 5.4 boards per game.

ROYER KEEPS THE HOT HAND: The Big West's top three-point threat with a 53.5 (38-for-71) percent mark from the arc, Dylan Royer would lead all 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 18 of his last 19 games and knocked down multiple three-pointers on 11 occasions this season. Royer, who scored 41 combined points between his freshman and sophomore seasons, has already registered 131 as a junior. He's also started during nine of 18 games this year after making just 28 combined appearances during his first two seasons.

EVERSLEY GAINING MOMENTUM: 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 averaged a team-leading 13.3 points per Cal Poly's last three games. Eversley's highlight night came during a 73-67 victory against Cal State Fullerton (Jan. 7) where he scored a career-high 18 points and pulled down a collegiate-best nine rebounds.

MUSTANGS ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES: Cal Poly has compiled a 5-1 record this year following a loss and just once this season – versus UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 2) and at Long Beach State (Jan. 5) – have the Mustangs suffered consecutive losses. Since the start of the 2010-11 season, Cal Poly has posted a 12-8 mark following a defeat.  

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 18-13 overall mark in Mott Gym, a 10-8 record against Big West opposition and, this season alone, allowed just 58.2 points per game.

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 Thursday's home clash against Long Beach State, Cal Poly will play seven games this season against programs that qualified for either the 2011 NCAA Tournament or NIT.

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.

During a 91-58 dismantling of Menlo College (Dec. 14), Cal Poly enjoyed numerous offensive achievements, most notably for:
– Total Points (91): Cal Poly's highest total since defeating Hawai'i, 102-89, on Feb. 20, 2010.
– Margin of Victory (33 points): Cal Poly's largest since pounding North Florida on Nov. 21, 2008 (76-42) – a span of 96 games.
– Players in Double-Digit Scoring Figures (Five): Cal Poly's highest since the aforementioned win at Hawai'i.
– Total Assists (19) / Fewest Turnovers (Six): Cal Poly's assist total was its highest since distributing 19 during a 95-81 win at UC Irvine on Jan. 4, 2010; the turnover total was the program's lowest since defeating UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 20, 2007, 71-61 – a span of 142 games. Cal Poly's 3.2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio was the highest mark under third-year head coach Joe Callero.

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.