Mustang Men’s Basketball Visits No. 11 UCLA for Sunday Showdown
COMPLETE GAME PREVIEW (pdf)
CHRIS EVERSLEY PREVIEWS SUNDAY'S GAME (video)
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – The Cal Poly men's basketball program visits UCLA for just the second time in 58 seasons as the Mustangs and 11th-ranked Bruins clash inside New Pauley Pavilion on Sunday, Nov. 25 in a 7 p.m. matchup that will be televised nationally on the Pac-12 Network. The Mustangs (1-2), in the midst of a six-day break after falling at home against Fresno State, 76-67 (Nov. 19), last visited UCLA on Dec. 11, 2010 and dropped a 72-61 decision. UCLA (4-1) returns home after splitting a pair of decisions at the Legends Classic inside the Brooklyn-based Barclays Center. The Bruins fell against Georgetown, 78-70 (Nov. 19), before topping Georgia, 60-56 (Nov. 20). In guards Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad and forward Tony Parker, UCLA opened the year with the nation's top-ranked incoming freshman class. The Bruins are unbeaten at New Pauley Pavilion after hammering Indiana State (86-59, Nov. 9) and James Madison (100-70, Nov. 15) and edging Big West Conference opponent UC Irvine (80-79, Nov. 13).
HOW TO ENJOY MUSTANG BASKETBALL THIS WEEK: Tom Barket returns to the headset to provide play-by-play detail of Sunday's matchup for GoPoly.com HERE and in San Luis Obispo County on ESPN 1280. Paul Sunderland (play-by-play) and Don McLean (color commentary) will have the television call courtside for the Pac-12 Network. Live stats will also be available for the game HERE.
CAL POLY VERSUS UCLA: Cal Poly's Dec. 11, 2010 visit to UCLA marked the first game between the two programs since Jan. 29, 1955 and the Mustangs are still seeking their first victory against the Bruins after five previous meetings. Prior to the 2010 matchup, Cal Poly and UCLA met four times between Jan. 28, 1949 and Jan. 29, 1955.
HELD IN HIGH REGARD: UCLA, No. 11 in the Nov. 19 edition of the AP Top 25 poll, enters Sunday's matchup as the second-highest ranked opponent Cal Poly has ever faced (the Bruins are also ranked No. 13 in the USA Today Coaches Poll). The highest ranked opponent Cal Poly has ever faced was then-No. 10/11 San Diego State, which edged the Mustangs on Dec. 13, 2010, 51-45.
PAC MENTALITY: The Mustangs are 1-3 against Pac-12 opponents under fourth-year head coach Joe Callero with Cal Poly's one victory against the conference coming last season at USC (42-36). Cal Poly's three losses against Pac-12 opposition under Callero occurred at Stanford (70-53) during the 2009-10 season and at UCLA (72-61) and California (51-41) two seasons ago.
EVERSLEY PICKS UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF: After closing last season with eight double-digit scoring games during Cal Poly's final 10 contests, junior forward Chris Eversley (right) has already hit the double-digit scoring mark twice in the program's first three games. Cal Poly's leader with 14.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, Eversley solidified his third career double-double with a 21-point, 10-rebound performance during a 64-53 home victory against Northern Colorado (Nov. 15). Most recently, Eversley added 14 points versus Fresno State (Nov. 19).
O'BRIEN MORE THAN OK AFTER A SEASON OFF: After missing last year due to a preseason injury, senior guard Chris O'Brien has returned following a 20-month hiatus to start each of Cal Poly's opening three games. O'Brien, who has knocked down his first 10 free throw attempts this year, enters Sunday's matchup at UCLA ranked third among Mustangs with 7.7 points per game.
JOHNSON LEADS FROM THE BACKCOURT: Bolstered by a career-high seven assists during a 64-53 home victory against Northern Colorado (Nov. 15), junior guard Jamal Johnson enters Sunday's matchup at UCLA ranked third among Big West players with 5.0 assists per game and fourth with a 2.5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Johnson, who added a season-high 10 points against Fresno State (Nov. 19), has started all three of Cal Poly's games this year after compiling just four starts during his first two seasons.
BENNETT HEADLINES CAL POLY'S FRESHMAN CLASS: Freshman forward Brian Bennett registered a 10-point, 11-rebound performance during his first collegiate outing and the Illinois native has scarcely ceased production since Cal Poly's season opener at TCU. The 6-9 Bennett enters Sunday's matchup at UCLA ranked 10th among Big West players with a 57.9 percent field goal mark and second among Mustangs with 6.0 rebounds per game. Bennett, who has committed just one turnover in 77 minutes this year, also averages 7.7 points per game.
MUSTANGS MAINTAIN POSSESSION: Cal Poly boosted its Big West-leading assist-to-turnover ratio to 1.74-to-1 after distributing 18 assists against just six turnovers versus Fresno State (Nov. 19). Entering Sunday's matchup against UCLA, Cal Poly has committed just 7.7 turnovers per three games this season.
THEY MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE: A year after finishing 10-4 inside Mott Gym to post the program's highest home winning percentage (.714) in five years, Cal Poly will again contest a 14-game home slate during the 2012-13 season. In support of Cal Poly's winning ways, the Mustangs have experienced a 42.5 percent increase in attendance between the 2008-09 campaign (the final season prior to head coach Joe Callero's central coast arrival) and last season's average of 2,242 fans per home contest. Cal Poly has never experienced a losing record inside Mott Gym under Callero.
NEW LOOK BIG WEST CONFERENCE: The expanding Big West Conference grew bigger during the offseason following the August announcement that Boise State will join the conference alongside San Diego State, beginning with the 2013-14 season. Previously a member of the Big West from 1984-96, Hawai'i resumed official conference competition this season to provide the Big West 10 members institutions for the 2012-13 academic term. Hawai'i, San Diego State and Boise State will compete in every sport in which the Big West sponsors a championship. On the flip side, Pacific will depart the Big West following this season to join the West Coast Conference.
MUSTANGS SELECTED SEVENTH IN BIG WEST MEDIA POLL: Despite returning two starters and six letterwinners from a 2011-12 squad that won 18 games and reached the semifinals of last year's Big West Tournament, Cal Poly was selected for a seventh-place finish this season in the Oct. 25 conference preseason media poll. Cal Poly received 100 points in the media poll to finish 13 votes behind sixth-place Pacific. Defending Big West regular season and tournament champion Long Beach State was selected to retain its crown after collecting 13 of an available 21 first-place votes and 194 total points.
LOOKING AHEAD: Cal Poly visits Saint Mary's for the first time in three seasons when facing the Gaels on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. inside McKeon Pavilion. Cal Poly, which dropped a late 59-54 home decision against the Gaels last season, has won at Saint Mary's just once in six all-time visits dating to Jan. 28, 1961. That lone victory was a 59-52 decision on Dec. 28, 2002. Saint Mary's (2-0) ranks as one of four opponents on Cal Poly's 2012-13 schedule that won its regular season conference title last year. The Gaels face Drexel (Nov. 22) and two yet-to-be-determined opponents (Nov. 23-24) as part of the Anaheim-hosted DirecTV Classic before welcoming Cal Poly.
ETC.: Cal Poly has won three of its four home openers under fourth-year head coach Joe Callero and is 14-5 at the Division I level in home-opening contests after topping Northern Colorado, 64-53 (Nov. 15).