COMPLETE GAME PREVIEW (pdf)
SAN LUIS OBISPO – Two days after overturning a 21-point deficit to claim an 80-79, Big West-opening victory against UC Santa Barbara, the Cal Poly men's basketball program closes the opening week of conference action when hosting Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, Jan. 6. Tip time inside Mott Athletics Center is 7 p.m. for Cal Poly (6-9, 1-0), which looks to open Big West play with successive victories for the first time since beginning the 2013-14 conference schedule 3-0. Cal Poly, which received three free throws from junior forward Luke Meikle with 0.3 seconds remaining Thursday evening versus UC Santa Barbara, enters Saturday's matchup ranked 23rd among 351 NCAA Division I programs at just 11.3 turnovers per game. Winners of seven of its last nine games, Cal State Fullerton (8-5, 1-0) opened Big West action with a 68-65 home win against UC Riverside Wednesday evening.
FOLLOW CAL POLY THIS WEEK: Chris Sylvester will have the call of Saturday's meeting with Cal State Fullerton for ESPN 1280 in San Luis Obispo County and via GoPoly.com HERE … live stats and streaming video will also be available via GoPoly.com HERE.
CAL POLY VERSUS CAL STATE FULLERTON: Cal State Fullerton's current three-game winning streak versus Cal Poly is its lengthiest in nine seasons. Cal Poly, however, has won four of its last seven home matchups versus Cal State Fullerton and leads both the all-time (37-29) and Division I (22-21) series.
THE WELL-ROUNDED DONOVAN FIELDS: Ranked fifth among approximately 5,500 NCAA Division I players with a 94.1 (32-for-34) percent free throw mark and Cal Poly's co-leader at 13.7 points per game, junior guard Donovan Fields also enters Saturday's matchup versus Cal State Fullerton ranked third among Big West Conference players with 4.6 assists per game, fourth with 1.5 steals per game and ninth in scoring. Fields matched a career high with 23 points at Santa Clara (Nov. 18) and has reached double-digit scoring figures in 10 of 15 games. Averaging 12.1 career points per game, Fields has scored in double figures 29 times in 46 (63.0 percent) Division I appearances. His 11-assist effort versus Pepperdine (Dec. 2) stands as the highest single game total in 264 games under ninth-year head coach Joe Callero.
WHEN IT COMES TO FREE THROWS, TAKE THE FIELDS: Having knocked down his first 28 free throw attempts of the season before finally missing against Princeton (Dec. 16), Donovan Fields ranks fifth among approximately 5,500 NCAA Division I players with a Big West Conference best 94.1 (32-for-34) percent free throw mark. On pace to eclipse the Cal Poly single season free throw record of 90.0 (54-for-60) percent set by guard Reese Morgan in 2012-13, Fields is also the leading free throw shooter in Cal Poly program history at 88.8 (104-for-117) percent.
JOSEPH PACKS THE SCORING PUNCH: Cal Poly's leader with 14 double-digit scoring efforts in 15 games – including six games of 15-plus points – senior guard Victor Joseph ranks ninth among Big West players at 13.7 points per game. Joseph is Cal Poly's single-game scoring leader this season alongside Donovan Fields with a 23-point effort against Idaho (Nov. 25). Having scored in double figures 29 times in 46 career games (62.2 percent), Joseph is averaging 12.6 career points per game for the Mustangs.
HOLLINGSWORTH LEADS CAL POLY ON BOTH ENDS: The Big West's leading shooter at 70.2 (33-for-47) percent and second leading shot blocker at 2.0 per game, 6-10 sophomore forward Hank Hollingsworth also paces Cal Poly with 5.1 rebounds per game. Having secured a second career double-double with a collegiate best 12 points and 10 rebounds versus Pepperdine (Dec. 2), Hollingsworth is a 63.0 (46-for-73) percent career shooter. Having blocked multiple shots in nine of 15 games this year, Hollingsworth – in just 43 career games – ranks eighth in program history with 57 career blocks.
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 9.75 turnovers per 171 matchups (1,667 turnovers total). Cal Poly, 23rd among 351 Division I programs thus far at 11.3 turnovers per game, has finished with a single-digit turnover figure six times this season with a low of just four versus Notre Dame de Namur (Dec. 30) and six against UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 4). Cal Poly has led the Big West in fewest turnovers per game in each of the last five years.
MUSTANGS FACE ANOTHER TESTING SCHEDULE THIS SEASON: Once again contesting one of the Big West Conference's more demanding schedules, Cal Poly will play nine games this season against opponents that qualified for the NCAA Tournament and NIT last year.
LOOKING AHEAD (JAN. 8-14): Following Saturday's matchup with Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly plays just one game in the ensuing 12 days when visiting Hawai'i on Wednesday, Jan. 10 at 9 p.m. PT. The Mustangs seek their first victory inside the Stan Sheriff Center since producing a 61-57, overtime decision on Jan. 7, 2015.
ETC: During a 73-68 win versus the College of Charleston (Nov. 22) – the first game in program history against the Cougars – Cal Poly set a new program record with a 100 (11-for-11) percent mark from the free throw line … Cal Poly's Dec. 19 visit to SMU marked the first time in NCAA Division I history that two schools which feature Mustangs as a mascot played … Cal Poly improved to 38-1 against non-Division I opposition with a 73-40 home victory versus Notre Dame de Namur on Dec. 30 (Cal Poly became a Division I program to begin the 1994-95 season) … an 80-79 victory against UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 4) handed Cal Poly its fifth victory to open Big West play in the last seven seasons.