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SAN LUIS OBISPO – The Cal Poly men's basketball program looks to continue climbing the Big West Conference standings when visiting Cal State Fullerton on Thursday, Feb. 8 (7 p.m.) on ESPN3 and Long Beach State on Saturday, Feb. 10 (8 p.m.) on Fox Sports West. Following home victories against UC Riverside (Jan. 31) and Hawai'i (Feb. 3), Cal Poly (8-15, 3-6) moved into seventh place in the Big West standings and trails sixth-place Hawai'i (13-8, 4-4) by just one-and-a-half games and fifth-place Cal State Fullerton (12-9, 5-4) by two games. The Mustangs enter the week ranked 27th among 351 NCAA Division I programs with a 76.7 percent free throw mark and 39th at just 11.5 turnovers per game. Cal State Fullerton, just two games out of first place, has dropped four of its previous five games. Fourth-place Long Beach State (12-14, 6-4), ranked second among Big West programs with 76.4 points per game, but last in points allowed (80.5), has dropped its last two games.
FOLLOW CAL POLY THIS WEEK: Chris Sylvester will have the play-by-play call of Thursday's matchup at Cal State Fullerton and Saturday's game at Long Beach State for ESPN 1280 in San Luis Obispo County and via GoPoly.com HERE … Trent Rush (play-by-play) and Bill Herenda (color commentary) will have the ESPN3 call Thursday at Cal State Fullerton HERE while Sam Farber (play-by-play) and Corey Maggette (color) will provide coverage for Fox Sports West Saturday at Long Beach State HERE … live stats will also be available via GoPoly.com HERE.
CAL POLY VERSUS CAL STATE FULLERTON: Despite 19 three-pointers from Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton outlasted the Mustangs during this year's series opener inside Mott Athletics Center in overtime, 101-97 (Jan. 6). Cal Poly has prevailed in three of its last four trips to Titan Gym, but dropped last year's road matchup, 81-71. Cal State Fullerton's current four-game winning streak against Cal Poly is its lengthiest in program history. The Mustangs lead the all-time series (37-30), but the Division I series is drawn (22-22).
CAL POLY VERSUS LONG BEACH STATE: Cal Poly's 78-71 win at Long Beach State last season marked its first victory inside The Pyramid in seven years. Long Beach State, however, prevailed in this year's series opener, 87-71 (Jan. 25), and leads both the all-time (48-32) and Division I (29-16) series.
MUSTANGS ON THE LINE: With junior guard Donovan Fields ranked second among approximately 5,500 NCAA Division I players with a Big West Conference best 92.6 (63-for-68) percent free throw mark and senior guard Victor Joseph 48th nationally and second among conference players at 87.0 (60-for-69) percent, Cal Poly leads the Big West and ranks 27th nationally with a 76.7 (263-for-343) percent team mark. Collectively, the Mustangs have shot better than 80.0 percent from the free throw line nine times this year. Both Fields and Joseph are in line to break the Cal Poly single season free throw record of 90.0 (54-for-60) percent, set by guard Reese Morgan in 2012-13. Fields, who started the year 28-for-28 from the free throw line, is the leading free throw shooter in Cal Poly program history at 89.4 (135-for-151) percent while Joseph ranks seventh all-time at 84.0 (136-for-162) percent.
THE WELL-ROUNDED DONOVAN FIELDS: Ranked second among approximately 5,500 NCAA Division I players with a 92.6 (63-for-68) percent free throw mark and first in Cal Poly's lineup at 14.0 points per game, junior guard Donovan Fields also enters Thursday's matchup at Cal State Fullerton ranked third among Big West Conference players with 4.1 assists per game, seventh with 1.3 steals per game and ninth in scoring. Fields has twice matched a career high with 23 points at Santa Clara (Nov. 18) and versus Cal State Fullerton (Jan. 6) and reached double-digit scoring figures in 16 of 23 games. Averaging 12.5 career points per game, Fields has scored in double figures 35 times in 54 (64.8 percent) Division I appearances. His 11-assist effort versus Pepperdine (Dec. 2) stands as the highest single game total in 270 games under ninth-year head coach Joe Callero.
JOSEPH PACKS THE SCORING PUNCH: Cal Poly's leader with 19 double-digit scoring efforts in 23 games – including a career high 33-point effort versus Cal State Fullerton (Jan. 6), the program's highest total in eight seasons – senior guard Victor Joseph ranks 11th among Big West players at 13.8 points per game. Joseph, whose seven three-pointers versus Cal State Fullerton were one shy of matching the Cal Poly program record, also ranks 48th among NCAA Division I players with an 87.0 (60-for-69) percent free throw mark. Having scored in double figures 34 times in 54 career games (63.0 percent), Joseph is Cal Poly's active leader with a career scoring average of 12.8 points per game.
CATEGORY TWO: With double-doubles in two of Cal Poly's last six games and a team leading four this season, junior forward Josh Martin has emerged as Cal Poly's leading rebounder at 5.7 boards per game and third leading scorer with 8.7 points per evening. Martin, who scored a career high 24 points and pulled down 12 rebounds at UC Irvine before going for 13 and 11 at CSUN, has produced a program leading seven career double-doubles. The 24-point performance is the second highest total by a Mustang this season.
HOLLINGSWORTH HELPS CAL POLY ON BOTH ENDS: Ranked 43rd among NCAA Division I players with 2.04 blocks per game and Cal Poly's leading shooter at 65.0 (39-for-60) percent, 6-10 sophomore forward Hank Hollingsworth established a new program single game record with seven blocks versus Cal State Fullerton (Jan. 6). Also Cal Poly's third leading rebounder at 4.0 boards per game, Hollingsworth secured a second career double-double with a collegiate best 12 points and 10 rebounds versus Pepperdine (Dec. 2). Hollingsworth is a 60.7 (54-for-89) percent career shooter. Having blocked multiple shots in 14 of 23 games this year, Hollingsworth – in just 52 career games – ranks fourth in program history with 76 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 9.84 turnovers per 179 matchups (1,762 turnovers total). Cal Poly, 27th among 351 Division I programs thus far at 11.5 turnovers per game, has finished with a single-digit turnover figure eight times this season with a low of just four versus Notre Dame de Namur (Dec. 30), five against UC Riverside (Jan. 31) and six versus 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 (FEB 12-18): Cal Poly opens a three-game home stand – and closes its 13-game home schedule inside Mott Athletics Center – when hosting UC Davis (Thursday, Feb. 15) and UC Irvine (Saturday, Feb. 17). Tip time both evenings is 7 p.m. for Cal Poly, which looks to run its home winning streak to three successive games versus UC Davis and snap a four-year home slide versus UC Irvine.
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 … Cal Poly's 19 three-pointers versus Cal State Fullerton (Jan. 21) were two shy of the program record while the nine blocks versus the Titans were one shy of matching the program record … Cal Poly's 68.8 (11-for-16) percent three-point mark versus Hawai'i (Feb. 3) marked the program's highest mark since shooting a program record 80.0 (12-for-15) percent at CSUN (Feb. 28, 2013) … Cal Poly's 8-for-8 three-point shooting start versus Hawai'i (Feb. 3) was also the program's best opening from the three-point line since matching an all-time NCAA record with an 11-for-11 start versus CSUN (Jan. 21, 2012).