COMPLETE GAME PREVIEW (pdf)
SAN LUIS OBISPO – Mott Athletics Center hosts a nationally televised matchup for the first time in two seasons on Saturday, Feb. 6 as the Cal Poly men's basketball program faces Hawai'i on ESPNU at 7 p.m. Through Wednesday's 78-72 overtime loss to Big West leader UC Irvine, Cal Poly (8-13, 2-6) slipped to eighth place in the conference standings, but remains just three games behind third-place Long Beach State (11-12, 5-3). Hawai'i (17-3, 6-1), playing just its fifth road game of the year Saturday night, remained in second place with a 76-64 Thursday victory at UC Santa Barbara. Cal Poly comes into Saturday's matchup ranked third among Big West teams with 74.9 points per game – the program's highest scoring average under seventh-year head coach Joe Callero. Winners of nine of its last 10 games, Hawai'i remains the Big West's highest scoring program at 79.4 points per game. Saturday's matchup marks the first televised game from Mott Athletics Center since Cal Poly hosted UC Irvine on Feb. 1, 2014.
FOLLOW THE MUSTANGS THIS WEEK: Tom Barket (@TomBarket) will have the play-by-play call of Saturday's game against Hawai'i for GoPoly.com and in San Luis Obispo County on ESPN 1280. Steve Quis (play-by-play) and Richie Schueler (color commentary) will provide coverage for ESPNU of Saturday's matchup versus Hawai'i. Live stats and streaming video of the game will also be available via GoPoly.com.
CAL POLY VERSUS HAWAI'I: The Warriors have visited Cal Poly four times and come away with victory just once in last year's 59-56 decision (Feb. 5, 2015). Hawai'i won this season's series opener in Honolulu 86-73 on Jan. 6, but Cal Poly leads the all-time series, 6-4
ALL ABOUT THAT PACE: Averaging 74.9 points per game to rank third among Big West Conference programs entering Saturday's matchup versus Hawai'i, Cal Poly's scoring output marks not only the highest average under seventh-year head coach Joe Callero, but just the second time in the past nine years that the Mustangs have averaged more than 70 points in a season. On pace to record the program's highest average since scoring 80.0 points per game during the 2001-02 season, Cal Poly has scored at least 70 points in 17 of 21 games (81.0 percent) this season after scoring 70-plus points just seven times last year. Cal Poly has also scored 80-plus points five times this season after failing to hit 80 in any game last year. In accordance, Cal Poly's 43.8 (560-for-1,280) percent field goal mark is also its highest under Callero with the Mustangs having shot better than 50 percent in a game three times this year.
MUSTANG QUALITY CONTROL: No program has committed fewer turnovers per game since the beginning of the 2012-13 season than Cal Poly, which has averaged just 9.29 turnovers per 116 matchups (1,077 turnovers total). After finishing second nationally behind Wisconsin last season with just 8.8 turnovers per game, Cal Poly leads the Big West this year and currently ranks 16th among 346 NCAA Division I programs with 10.4 per game. Having committed single-digit turnovers in a game seven times this season – including a program record two during an 83-75 victory at Cal State Fullerton (Jan. 23) – Cal Poly also ranks 22nd nationally with a 1.45-to-1 turnover ratio.
NWABA'S WELL-ROUNDED GAME: One of Cal Poly's top two scorers in each of his three years as a Mustang, senior guard David Nwaba enters Saturday's matchup versus Hawai'i leading Cal Poly in points (12.0), rebounds (5.9) and assists (4.0) per game while having scored in double figures a team leading 16 times. Ranked fifth among Big West players in assists per game and 12th in rebounds per game, Nwaba is averaging 11.6 points per 78 career games (908 total) and is a 46.9 (327-for-698) percent career shooter.
MORGAN FINDS THE TARGET: Ranked 10th among Big West Conference shooters and 60th among NCAA Division I players with a 40.5 (45-for-111) percent three-point mark, senior guard Reese Morgan has knocked down 45 of his 53 (84.9 percent) field goals this season from beyond the arc. Second in Cal Poly's lineup with 9.9 points per game and having sunk multiple three-pointers in a game 14 times this season, Morgan is a 34.4 (125-for-363) percent career three-point shooter. Morgan is also the second leading free throw shooter in Cal Poly history at 86.9 (218-for-251) percent. His 218 made free throws rank third all-time.
BENNETT ROUNDING OFF HISTORIC CAREER: Fifth among Big West players with a 54.1 (93-for-172) percent field goal mark and fourth in Cal Poly's lineup with 9.6 points per game, senior forward Brian Bennett has scored in double figures 11 times this season. Cal Poly's single-game leader for points (21) and rebounds (12) this year, Bennett's feat versus Long Beach State (Jan. 16) marked his fourth career double-double. He also scored a season high 21 points versus UC Riverside (Jan. 28). Ranked 22nd in Cal Poly program history with 1,041 points, 10th with 529 rebounds and ninth with 461 fields goals and just the 10th player ever to reach the 1,000-point, 500-rebound plateau, Bennett is a 50.9 (461-for-905) percent career shooter
AWICH IMPROVES THE OFFENSIVE GAME: Enjoying his highest career scoring average and with 10 double-digit scoring games thus far, senior forward Joel Awich enters Saturday's matchup versus Hawai'i ranked third in Cal Poly's lineup with 9.7 points per game. Also second among Mustangs with 4.6 rebounds per game, Awich is Cal Poly's third leading all-time shot blocker with 100.
REDSHIRTS EMERGE FOR CAL POLY: Three players who redshirted last year have each made impacts this season. Sophomore guard Taylor Sutlive, having started in 15 of 21 games, ranks second in the Big West and 15th among NCAA Division I players with a 45.3 (43-for-95) percent three-point mark. Sutlive, who has scored in double digits nine times and is sixth in Cal Poly's lineup with 8.0 points per game, also ranks fifth among Big West players with a 2.8-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. A 2014 transfer from Gonzaga, sophomore forward Luke Meikle has recorded nine double-digit scoring games – including career high 18-point performances at UCLA (Nov. 15) and Saint Mary's (Dec. 14) – and is fifth in Cal Poly's lineup with 8.9 points per game. Junior forward Zach Gordon, who redshirted last season through injury, ranks third among Big West players with a 59.0 (35-for-56) percent field goal mark. Fourth in Cal Poly's lineup with 3.9 rebounds per game, Gordon grabbed a career high 10 rebounds versus Cal State Monterey Bay (Nov. 18).
ETC.: Cal Poly fell to 2-5 in season openers under seventh-year head coach Joe Callero, 9-13 in season openers on the road at the Division I level at 2-11 in Division I road season openers with a 74-72 loss at UNLV (Nov. 13) ... Cal Poly's 88-83 loss at UCLA marked the program's first 80-point effort since defeating Texas Southern 81-69 in the NCAA Tournament First Four (March 19, 2014) ... Cal Poly improved to 34-1 against non-Division I programs and 9-1 in similar games under seventh-year head coach Joe Callero with an 85-55 home victory versus NAIA University of Antelope Valley (Nov. 28) ... Cal Poly's 77-65 home victory versus Fresno State (Dec. 5) marked the program's 15th non-conference home victory in its last 18 games ... the 19 three-pointers sunk by Saint Mary's (Dec. 14) versus Cal Poly were a program record for the Gaels and one shy of the Mustang opponent single game record ... the 101 points scored by USC (Dec. 17) were the highest amount by a Cal Poly opponent since the Mustangs dropped a 113-108 overtime home decision to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Jan. 9, 2001 ... Cal Poly's 80-74 loss at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Dec. 20) marked seventh-year head coach Joe Callero's 200th game ... Cal Poly finished with seven players in double digit scoring figures during an 88-73 win at UTSA (Dec. 22), the highest amount under Callero (the Mustangs had never previously even had six) ... the 88 points scored at UTSA marked Cal Poly's highest scoring output against a Division I opponent since defeating Hawai'i 88-59 at home (Jan. 24, 2013) ... Cal Poly fell to 8-20 in Big West-opening games and 4-3 in Big West openers under Callero with an 86-73 loss at Hawai'i (Jan. 6) ... Cal Poly fell to 10-10 in Big West home openers and 3-4 in Big West home openers under Callero with a 76-73 loss to UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 14) ... the UC Santa Barbara loss also marked Callero's 100th Big West game ... Cal Poly's 96-92 double-overtime home victory versus Long Beach State (Jan. 16) marked the first multiple-overtime game inside Mott Athletics Center since the Mustangs defeated Cal State Dominguez Hills 56-55 in triple-overtime on Jan. 29, 1983 ... Cal Poly's two turnovers at Cal State Fullerton (Jan. 23) marked the program's fewest total in seven years under Callero ... the eight blocks compiled by UC Irvine junior center Mamadou N'Diaye (Feb. 3) set a program record for most blocks by a Cal Poly opponent.