COMPLETE PREVIEW AND PLAYER BIOS (pdf)
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – With a bracket championship from the 2011 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational in hand, the Cal Poly men's basketball program returns to the central coast to host Sacramento State (3-2) on Wednesday, Nov. 30 and Saint Mary's (4-1) on Saturday, Dec. 3. Both games tip at 7 p.m. inside Mott Gym. After posting a 3-1 mark during the Las Vegas Invitational in what amounted to Cal Poly's lengthiest road trip of the 2011-12 campaign, the Mustangs are in search of their first three-game winning streak since prevailing in six straight between Jan. 29 and Feb. 16.
FOLLOW THE MUSTANGS THIS WEEK: Tom Barket returns to the headset to provide play-by-play detail of Cal Poly's Wednesday matchup versus Sacramento State and Saturday's showdown against Saint Mary's for GoPoly.com HERE and in San Luis Obispo County on ESPN 1280. Livestats and streaming video of both contests will also be available HERE.
CAL POLY VERSUS SACRAMENTO STATE: Despite a 71-67 defeat inside Hornet Gym last year, Cal Poly maintains a 26-14 series advantage versus Sacramento State since the first meeting between the two programs on Jan. 6, 1950. The Mustangs prevailed in the last meeting between the two programs in Mott Gym on Jan. 16, 2007 (74-65).
CAL POLY VERSUS SAINT MARY'S: Cal Poly has prevailed in all five of its home matchups against the Gaels dating to the first meeting between the two programs on Jan. 28, 1961. Overall, the Mustangs own a 7-5 series lead against the Gaels, who downed Cal Poly during the last matchup between the two programs on Nov. 23, 2009 (92-67). Cal Poly's last victory against Saint Mary's was a 72-59 home triumph on Nov. 26, 2006.
HISTORY IN THE HOUSE ON SATURDAY: At halftime of Saturday's game versus Saint Mary's, the Cal Poly Athletics Department will honor the historic accomplishments of the 1970-71 Mustang squad. Coached by Neale Stoner, the 1970-71 Mustangs – powered by an eight-game winning streak between Jan. 23 and Feb. 13 – chalked up a 6-2 mark in California Collegiate Athletic Association play to earn the program's first NCAA Division II Tournament berth. At the West Regional in Tacoma, Wash., Cal Poly – which averaged 82.3 points per contest during the season and broke the 90-point barrier on 10 occasions – dropped its postseason opener against host Puget Sound on March 11 (81-69). The Mustangs, however, rebounded two nights later in the consolation final to edge San Francisco State, 70-68.
DEFENSE REMAINS AT THE FOREFRONT: A year after developing a national reputation for defensive stinginess, the Mustangs are back atop the Big West Conference and NCAA defensive charts. Cal Poly enters Wednesday's matchup versus Sacramento State leading the Big West and ranked 23rd among NCAA Division I teams in opponent points per game (56.5). The Mustangs also allow opponents a Big West-low 27.5 rebounds per contest and rank second in opponent three-point percentage (29.9).
ROYER REIGNS FROM DOWNTOWN: After sparking Cal Poly's 72-55 victory against Mississippi Valley State (Nov. 26) with a career-high 18 points from a collegiate-best five three-pointers, junior guard Dylan Royer enters Wednesday's matchup against Sacramento State leading all Big West players with a 58.3 (14-for-24) percent mark from three-point range and ranking second with 14 total three-pointers. Royer, third among Mustangs with 7.8 points per contest, has hit multiple three-pointers in four of six games this season and has already scored more points this year (47) than during his previous two combined (41).
MUSTANGS HEAT UP FROM LONG RANGE: Though just fourth among Big West programs this year with a 33.8 percent three-point mark, Cal Poly has been adept from beyond the arc of late in hitting a combined 24 of 47 attempts (51.1 percent) during victories against Morgan State (Nov. 25) and Mississippi Valley State (Nov. 26).
TAYLOR RISES TO THE OCCASION: Having already notched new career single-game scoring (16, Nov. 16) and rebounding (13, Nov. 12) highs, senior forward Will Taylor – who redshirted the 2010-11 season – enters Wednesday's matchup versus Sacramento State ranked third among Big West players with a 55.8 percent field goal mark and seventh with 6.7 boards per game. A starter in all six of Cal Poly's games, Taylor has shot better than 60 percent from the floor, recorded double-digit scoring figures and grabbed six-plus rebounds during a game on three separate occasions this year.
FERMIN WORTH THE WAIT: Redshirting the previous two seasons hasn't hampered senior point guard Amaurys Fermin (above), who enters Wednesday's matchup against Sacramento State leading all Big West players with 24 assists and ranked second with 4.0 per game. Fermin, who handed out a career-high eight assists against Mississippi Valley State (Nov. 26), also paces Cal Poly with 11.0 points per game after turning in successive 12-point performances to close the Las Vegas Invitational.
HANSON BREAKING OUT: Held to just four total points during Cal Poly's initial two contests, senior forward David Hanson enters Wednesday's matchup versus Sacramento State having reached double-digit scoring figures in the program's previous four games. More than half of Hanson's 23 field goals this season have come from beyond the three-point line as the Plymouth, Minn., native has raised his scoring average to 10.7 points per game.
HANSON ON VERGE OF HISTORY: David Hanson requires just 57 additional points to become the third Mustang in as many seasons and the 17th player in program history to notch 1,000 career points. Hanson, who finished eighth among Big West players last year with 455 total points and 15.2 per 30 games, is currently sixth among active conference players in career points. Guard Shawn Lewis completed his four-year Mustang career last year as the seventh-leading scorer in program history with 1,304 points while guard Lorenzo Keeler (2007-10) ended his tenure ranked No. 11 with 1,157 points.
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 Saturday's clash against Saint Mary's, Cal Poly will play seven games this season against programs that qualified for either the 2011 NCAA Tournament or NIT.
MUSTANGS RETURN TO THE SMALL SCREEN: A year after making a program-record five television appearances, the Mustangs are scheduled to appear on TV a further four times during the 2011-12 campaign.
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 a 14-11 overall mark in Mott Gym, a 9-7 record against Big West Conference opposition and, this season alone, allowed just 56.0 points per game.
MILESTONE ACCOMPLISHED: Cal Poly's 62-61 victory against Morgan State on Nov. 25 was the program's 200th triumph at the Division I level. Cal Poly's first win as a Division I program was a 62-59 triumph of Menlo College on Jan. 11, 1995.
HAWAI'I SAYS ALOHA TO BIG WEST CONFERENCE: The Big West Conference Board of Directors announced the addition of Hawai'i as the conference's 10th member institution on Dec. 10, 2010. Previously a member of the Big West from 1984-96, Hawai'i will begin official conference competition during the 2012-13 campaign.
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 27-point margin of victory against San Jose State (Nov. 12) was the program's largest disparity under third-year head coach Joe Callero and largest since hammering North Florida on Nov. 21, 2008, 76-42 … 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) … the Mustangs have compiled more fouls than their opponents during all six games this season … the 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.