COMPLETE GAME PREVIEW (pdf)
SAN LUIS OBISPO – The Cal Poly men's basketball program completes its 18-game, regular season travel schedule when visiting Long Beach State on Saturday, March 2 at 7 p.m. The matchup from Walter Pyramid will be broadcast via ESPN3 for Cal Poly (6-20, 2-11), which enters Saturday's meeting trailing eighth-place UC Riverside (9-20, 3-10) by just a game in the Big West standings. The Highlanders, who host first-place UC Irvine (24-5, 12-1) on Saturday at 5 p.m., control the final spot for the March 14-16 Big West Tournament in Anaheim with three games remaining. Seventh-place Long Beach State (12-18, 6-8), winners of three straight games, averages the second highest point total among Big West programs (74.9 per game) while also conceding the second highest amount (76.7).
FOLLOW CAL POLY THIS WEEK: Chris Sylvester will have the play-by-play call of Saturday's game at Long Beach State for ESPN 1280 in San Luis Obispo County and via GoPoly.com HERE … Tim Becwar (play-by-play) and Dave Miller (color commentary) will have the courtside call for ESPN3 HERE … live stats and streaming video of the game will also be available via GoPoly.com HERE.
CAL POLY VERSUS LONG BEACH STATE: Cal Poly has produced just one win in nine previous attempts inside The Pyramid under 10th-year head coach Joe Callero – a 78-71 victory on Feb. 23, 2017. Cal Poly looks to even the season series after falling in overtime to Long Beach State, 76-68 (Feb. 9). The 49ers lead both the all-time (50-32) and Division I series (31-16).
FIELDS REMAINS CAL POLY'S CATALYST: One of Cal Poly's top two scorers during each of his three seasons as a Mustang, senior guard Donovan Fields enters Saturday's game at Long Beach State ranked sixth among Big West players with a team leading 16.3 points per game. Topped by career high 30-point efforts versus Menlo College (Nov. 7) and CSUN (Jan. 12), 28-point showings against Bethune-Cookman (Dec. 8) and Hawai'i (Feb. 23) and a 26-point performance at California (Dec. 15), Fields has scored 20-plus points nine times this year and chalked up a team leading 20 double-digit scoring games. He also owns the top seven scoring games by a Mustang this season. The third leading free throw shooter in Cal Poly program history at 86.5 (205-for-237) percent, Fields is averaging 13.4 career points per game and has scored in double figures 58 times in 88 (65.9 percent) Division I appearances. One of only 24 players in program history to score 1,000 career points, Fields currently ranks 13th all-time with 1,174 points. Also one of the top ball-handlers in Cal Poly history, Fields is fourth among Big West players at 4.1 assists per game and seventh in program history with 292 career assists. Regarding steals, Fields ranks seventh in the Big West at 1.3 per game and is one of only eight players in program history to record at least 100 during a career (currently 105).
GARRICK SETS THE SCORING TONE: An 18-point effort at Cal State Fullerton (Feb. 28) was senior guard Marcellus Garrick's 14th double-digit scoring game of the year while his 6-for-7 three-point performance at UC Riverside (Jan. 31) marked the finest showing beyond the arc by a Mustang this season. Second in Cal Poly's lineup at 10.3 points per game, Garrick has scored 15-plus points in a game 10 times this year. A starter in 22 of 26 games, Garrick has sunk multiple three-pointers in a game 14 times.
AS THE CROWE LETS IT FLY: Now ranked 24th among NCAA Division I players with a 43.4 (53-for-122) percent three-point mark, sophomore wing Mark Crowe has emerged as Cal Poly's third leading scorer at 9.8 points per game. Also second among Mustangs with 15 double-digit scoring games, Crowe scored a career best 22 points at Fresno State (Dec. 1) while notching 18 versus UTA (Dec. 21) and 16 at UC Davis (Jan. 19). Crowe has also knocked down multiple three-pointers in 17 of 26 games.
JOB WELL DONE: Having recorded just 42 points during his first 15 games as a Mustang, junior guard Job Alexander – in his last nine outings – has averaged 9.2 points per game and produced all five of his double-digit scoring efforts. Alexander, who has twice scored a career high 15 points at UC Riverside (Jan. 31) and at Cal State Fullerton (Feb. 28), is shooting 45.5 percent this season. He's now started Cal Poly's last eight games.
HOLLINGSWORTH ON THE BLOCK: The fourth leading shot blocker in program history with 107 career blocks, junior forward Hank Hollingsworth requires just 30 more to overtake the program record of 136 established by Varnie Dennis (2000-04). This season, he ranks fifth among Big West players at 1.0 blocks per game. Also the second leading shooter in program history at 59.6 (112-for-188) percent, Hollingsworth chalked up his third career double-double with career highs for points (14) and rebounds (12) versus USC Upstate (Nov. 24). He also recorded 12 points at Siena (Dec. 29) and grabbed 10 boards against CSUN (Jan. 12). On the boards, Hollingsworth leads Cal Poly and ranks 13th among Big West players with 4.8 rebounds per game.
INTO THE NIGHT: Through 26 games, Cal Poly – alongside SIU-Edwardsville – leads all 351 Division I teams with a program record five overtime games (the Mustangs are 2-3). Dating to last year, Cal Poly has played 10 overtime periods in its last 30 games.
CAL POLY'S QUALITY CONTROL: No Division I program has committed fewer turnovers per game since the beginning of the 2012-13 season than Cal Poly, which has averaged just 10.18 turnovers per 213 matchups (2,169 turnovers total). Cal Poly has led the Big West in fewest turnovers per game in five of the last six years and ranks third this season at just 11.7 per night. Nationally, the Mustangs rank 57th this season among 351 Division I programs.
LOOKING AHEAD (MARCH 4-10): Cal Poly closes the 2018-19 regular season – and looks to pin down a spot in the Big West Tournament – when hosting Big West leader UC Irvine (Thursday, March 7) and UC Santa Barbara (Saturday, March 9). Tip time is 7 p.m. both evenings.
ETC.: The 13,995-fan attendance figure for Cal Poly's Nov. 11 game at Arizona marked the largest crowd for a Mustangs game since 17,995 fans packed the Scottrade Center in St. Louis for the program's 2014 NCAA Tournament second round matchup versus Wichita State (March 21, 2014) … Cal Poly's scheduled Nov. 16 game at Sacramento State was postponed due to continued poor air quality related to the Camp Fire (a makeup date has not yet been announced) … Cal Poly's Nov. 19 matchup at Washington State marked the program's first and only meeting against the Cougars since Feb. 10, 1976 and leaves Oregon (one all-time meeting) as the least frequent Pac-12 Conference opponent in Mustang history … Cal Poly's six-game road trip from Nov. 11-Dec. 1 marked the fourth time in five years the Mustangs embarked on a road trip of six games or lengthier … tenth-year head coach Joe Callero moved into sole possession of third place on the Cal Poly career victories chart with his 122nd win as Mustang head coach during the program's Nov. 24 triumph versus USC Upstate. Having surpassed Steve Beason (1986-95) for third place in program history, Callero ranks 18th in career victories in Big West Conference history … Cal Poly's 80-78 home win versus Bethune-Cookman marked the program's first victory versus a MEAC program … Cal Poly's Dec. 29 matchup at Siena marked the program's first game in New York state in 59 seasons and first game against a MAAC opponent since visiting Saint Peter's on Dec. 14, 1973 … Cal Poly improved to 40-1 against non-Division I programs with its 68-47 win versus Holy Names (Cal Poly transitioned to Division I prior to the 1994-95 season) … Cal Poly's Jan. 31 game at UC Riverside marked head coach Joe Callero's 300th game with the Mustangs. He's just the third person in Cal Poly program history to coach 300-plus games … Cal State Fullerton's 49 free throw attempts (Feb. 28) set a new single game record by a Mustang opponent (Seattle previously attempted 48 on Dec. 3, 2009) while the 35 conversions by the Titans tied the opponent single game record (set by UC Irvine on March 6, 2010).