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Cal Poly Faces Top Seed Wichita State in NCAA Tournament Second Round

Cal Poly Faces Top Seed Wichita State in NCAA Tournament Second Round






ST. LOUIS – Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to a 64-team field for the 1985 edition, 16th-ranked seeds have squared off against a No. 1 on 116 occasions ... and posted a combined 0-116 mark. Friday evening at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, the 16th-seeded Cal Poly men's basketball program gets a crack at making history when meeting Midwest Regional top seed and undefeated Wichita State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Tip time is set for 4:10 p.m. PT (6:10 p.m. CT) with action televised live on CBS. Cal Poly (14-19), which qualified for its first NCAA Division I Tournament by winning three Big West Conference Tournament games in three days as the No. 7 seed, advanced to Friday's second round matchup after outdueling fellow No. 16 seed Texas Southern in the First Four on Wednesday, 81-69. Wichita State (34-0), the first program to enter the NCAA Tournament undefeated since UNLV in 1991, is the Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament champion. The winner of Friday's Cal Poly-Wichita State matchup will face either eighth-seeded Kentucky (24-10) or No. 9 Kansas State (20-12) on Sunday, March 23. With four successive victories, Cal Poly – the only program in the NCAA Tournament with a sub.-500 mark – is enjoying its lengthiest winning streak since taking six consecutive from Feb. 23-March 14, 2013. One of the nation's most efficient and defensive-oriented teams, Cal Poly enters the NCAA Tournament second round ranked fifth among Division I programs with just 9.0 turnovers committed per game and 37th with 63.6 points allowed per contest.

MEDIA ADVISORY; WE ARE CAL POLY: When referring to any Cal Poly athletics program, please use only "Cal Poly" to denote the school. Please refrain from using names such as "Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo," "Cal Poly-SLO," "CPSU," "Cal Poly State" and "Polytechnic State University." Cal Poly is a separate institution from Division II Cal Poly Pomona.

HOW TO ENJOY MUSTANG BASKETBALL AT THE NCAA TOURAMENT: CBS will televise Cal Poly's March 21 second round matchup against Wichita State with Jim Nantz (play-by-play) and Greg Anthony (color commentary) calling courtside action at the Scottrade Center. Streaming video and real-time highlights of the contest will be available at Tom Barket returns to the headset to provide play-by-play detail for every NCAA Tournament game on ESPN 1280 in San Luis Obispo County and online at HERE. Live stats for each NCAA Tournament game will also be available through HERE.

LOOKING AHEAD IN THE MIDWEST REGIONAL: The advancing side from Friday's Cal Poly-Wichita State matchup will face either eighth-seeded Kentucky (24-10) or No. 9 Kansas State (20-12) on Sunday, March 23 (tip time TBA). Cal Poly has never faced either Wildcat program.

LET'S NOT GET AHEAD OF OURSELVES, BUT: The emerging team from St. Louis advances to the four-team Midwest Regional final, scheduled for March 28 and 30 in Indianapolis.

CAL POLY VERSUS WICHITA STATE: Cal Poly's only previous matchup versus Wichita State came on Dec. 28, 1976 with the Mustangs falling in Kansas, 76-57.

MUSTANGS EARN HISTORIC NCAA TOURNAMENT WIN AT THE FIRST FOUR (MARCH 19): Senior forward Chris Eversley scored a team-leading 19 points as Cal Poly – appearing in its first NCAA Division I Tournament game – chalked up its first Division I postseason victory as the Mustangs outdueled fellow 16th seed Texas Southern on Wednesday evening, 81-69, at the First Four inside the UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio. Sophomore wing David Nwaba added 17 points and sophomore forward Brian Bennett scored 10 for Cal Poly, which shot a season-high 56.9 (29-for-51) percent from the floor. During the first matchup between Cal Poly and Texas Southern, the Mustangs led for the final 33-and-a-half minutes, put themselves up 44-32 at the break and failed to let the Tigers within eight points of the lead the remainder of the night.

CAL POLY MAKES HISTORY AT THE BIG WEST CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT (MARCH 13-15): The Mustangs led the Big West Conference standings after the opening two weeks of play but, having finished the regular season with just two wins in the final 11 games, the Mustangs drifted to the No. 7 seed for the March 13-15 Big West Tournament at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Cal Poly, however, swept aside three opponents in three days to become the lowest-seeded team in the 39-year history of the Big West Tournament to win the competition.
Sparked by freshman guard Ridge Shipley – who contributed a career-high 15 points off the bench – Cal Poly opened the Big West Tournament by pounding central coast rival and second-seeded UC Santa Barbara. Against the Gauchos, Cal Poly utilized an early 15-0 run before closing the first half with a 12-3 run to go up at the break 41-20 en route to its largest margin of victory at the Big West Tournament.
Behind 14 points apiece from Big West Tournament Most Valuable Player Chris Eversley and all-tournament team member David Nwaba, Cal Poly toppled top-seeded UC Irvine. Leading 61-55 with 67 seconds to play, Cal Poly absorbed a UC Irvine three-pointer before seeing the Anteaters fall short at the buzzer with a potential game-tying three-point attempt.
Making just the program's third appearance in the Big West Tournament championship game after falling short in 2003 and 2007, Cal Poly trailed fifth-seeded Cal State Northridge 59-55 with 92 seconds to play. The Mustangs, however, received two Nwaba free throws before Shipley drained the game-winning three-pointer from the top of the arc with 14 seconds to play.

NOTABLE FACTS FROM THE BIG WEST TOURNAMENT: In becoming the lowest-seeded team in the 39-year history of the Big West Tournament to win the competition, Cal Poly established a new set of conference historical distinctions, namely:
– becoming the first No. 7 seed in the 39-year history of the Big West Tournament to beat a No. 1;
– becoming the first No. 7 seed to win a semifinal game since Fresno State reached the 1991 final;
– becoming the lowest-seeded team to play for the Big West Tournament title since 10th-seeded UC Irvine lost the 1994 final to No. 1 New Mexico State;
– becoming the lowest-seeded team in the history of the tournament to eliminate both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds and;
– allowing the fewest points in a Big West Tournament game since 2001 (Cal Poly topped UC Santa Barbara in its quarterfinal game, 69-38).

CAL POLY AT NCAA TOURNAMENTS: While Cal Poly is making the program's first NCAA Division I Tournament appearance and second successive postseason showing following a 2013 Tournament appearance, the Mustangs do have a notable NCAA Tournament pedigree at the Division II level. Cal Poly's last NCAA Tournament appearance came at the 1986 Division II West Regional where the California Collegiate Athletic Association regular season champions dropped both the opening round and consolation contests. Prior to this year, Cal Poly's last NCAA Tournament victory was a 66-60 win against Alaska-Anchorage during the semifinals of the 1982 Division II West Regional in Bakersfield, Calif. The most successful Cal Poly squad remains the 1980-81 side which reached the Division II Final Four before falling in the national semifinals to Florida Southern (54-51). Cal Poly, however, rebounded to defeat Wisconsin-Green Bay (62-61) in the third-place contest. A seven-time NCAA Division II Tournament qualifier with the first appearance coming in 1971, Cal Poly also reached the quarterfinals of the 1977 tournament.

BIG WEST BACK IN THE WIN COLUMN: With its 81-69 First Four victory against Texas Southern, Cal Poly became the first Big West Conference program to win an NCAA Tournament game since eighth-seeded Pacific topped Pitt in the first round of the 2005 competition, 79-71. The last Big West program to win twice at the NCAA Tournament was New Mexico State, which reached the 1992 Sweet 16. Current Cal Poly Director of Operations Bob Lowe was a member of that 1992 Aggies coach staff.

PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME: Since the 1955 NCAA Tournament, 23 programs have entered with a losing record. The last 19-loss team to win an NCAA Tournament game, however, was Bradley in 1955. The Braves topped Oklahoma City (69-65) and SMU (81-79) before falling in the Elite Eight to Colorado (93-81).

THE UNDEFEATED COACH CALLERO: With Cal Poly's 81-69 First Four victory against Texas Southern (March 19), fifth-year Mustang head coach Joe Callero became the only Big West Conference coach at his current school with an NCAA Tournament win on his resume.

FRESH FACES: Of the 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament, two programs – Cal Poly and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament champion North Carolina Central – are making their first appearance in the competition.

POSSESSION IS NINE-TENTHS OF THE VICTORY: Sixth among NCAA Division I programs with just 297 total turnovers, Cal Poly enters the NCAA Tournament averaging just 9.0 turnovers per contest. In winning the March 13-15 Big West Tournament, Cal Poly committed just 18 turnovers in three games. Overall, Cal Poly has finished with a single-digit turnover total in 20 of 33 games this year.

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 have kept up their stifling ways this year. Ranked 37th nationally and the Big West Conference leader with just 63.6 points allowed per game, Cal Poly has held an opponent under 65 points in 20 of 33 games this year and in 34 of the past 49 contests dating to the 2012-13 season.

EVERSLEY CAL POLY'S CONSTANT CATALYST: The Big West Tournament Most Valuable Player selection and a member of the All-Big West second team, senior forward Chris Eversley ranks 11th among conference players with 13.7 points per game and sixth with 7.2 rebounds per contest. Also fifth among Big West players with 43 steals, Eversley has posted 23 double-digit scoring games this season – including 18-point performances during Cal Poly's Big West Tournament title game victory against Cal State Northridge (March 15) and the program's First Four triumph versus Texas Southern – to up his career total to 57. He has also compiled five double-doubles during the 2013-14 season to push his career total to 13. Eversley's season scoring high was a 25-point effort at Stanford (Dec. 29) while his rebounding best was a 15-board haul versus Santa Clara (Dec. 7). Eversley, who has started 64 of Cal Poly's last 67 games dating to the 2011-12 season, has grabbed seven-plus rebounds in a game 18 times this season.

EVERSLEY CONTINUES TO MAKE 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 12th all-time with 1,186 points in just three years, Eversley also ranks ninth in program history with 604 rebounds and, for his career, is averaging 12.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per 97 games as a Mustang.

NWABA TRANSFERS SUCCESS IN 2013-14: Ranked 50th in Division I with a 53.2 (140-for-263) percent field goal mark, sophomore wing and All-Big West Tournament selection David Nwaba has shot higher than 70 percent from the floor in 11 games this season and enters the NCAA Tournament second round second among Mustangs with 12.0 points per contest. An offseason transfer from Santa Monica College, Nwaba has scored 17 points during Cal Poly's last two games – against Cal State Northridge in the final of the Big West Conference Tournament (March 15) and versus Texas Southern in the First Four (March 19). The only Mustang to reach double digits during all three Big West Tournament games, Nwaba has scored 22 points against UC Irvine (March 1) and 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 28 of 33 games for Cal Poly this year, has compiled 22 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), Cal State Northridge (Jan. 16) and at UC Davis (Feb. 27), senior guard Jamal Johnson – the all-time Cal Poly appearances leader with 127 games – enters the NCAA Tournament second round ranked fifth among Big West players in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.51-to-1) and 11th in assists per game (2.82). Johnson, who posted a 3.07-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in 16 Big West contests this year, has committed just seven turnovers in Cal Poly's last 14 games. Ranked seventh in Cal Poly program history with 302 assists, Johnson owns a career 2.05-to-1 (302-to-147) assist-to-turnover ratio. Offensively, Johnson has 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.

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 the NCAA Tournament second round ranked third among Mustangs with 9.2 points per contest. Also third among Big West players with 2.6 three-pointers per game and seventh with a 36.6 (61-for-167) percent three-point mark, Odister is a 39.0 (175-for-449) percent career three-point shooter. His 175 career three-pointers rank as the fifth-best total in Mustang program history while his 449 attempts are sixth.

AWICH OUT OF THE STARTING BLOCKS: A starter in 15 of Cal Poly's last 21 games, sophomore forward Joel Awich enters the NCAA Tournament second round ranked sixth among Big West players with 0.97 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 31 blocks – 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 45 blocks. Offensively, Awich's standout games this year include career-best 11-point performances at Stanford (Dec. 29) and versus UC Santa Barbara (March 13) in the quarterfinals of the Big West Tournament.

JOIN CAL POLY MEN'S BASKETBALL, SEE THE WORLD: Few teams, if any, have logged more miles this year than Cal Poly, which enters the NCAA Tournament First Four having covered approximately 25,779 miles during the 2013-14 season. Cal Poly's schedule has included two trips to the east coast (Pittsburgh, Delaware), one to Hawai'i, games in seven different states (including the program's first appearances in Pennsylvania and Delaware) and five first-time opponents (Texas Southern, Oregon, Pitt, Delaware and Bethesda).

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) ... Cal Poly's four-game losing streak inside the Mott Athletics Center (Jan. 18-Feb. 20) was the program's lengthiest since dropping six successive home games from Dec. 28, 2008 to Feb. 18, 2009 ... the 13 three-pointers allowed to UC Davis (Feb. 27) were the highest total by a Mustang opponent since Wisconsin sank 13 on Dec. 16, 2009 – a span of 144 games ... Cal Poly's March 15 Big West Conference Tournament championship game victory marked the first time in 17 opportunities that the Mustangs won when trailing at halftime (Cal State Northridge led 29-25).

Photo courtesy of Ian Billings / Mustang News