COMPLETE WEEKLY PREVIEW (pdf)
SAN LUIS OBISPO – The Cal Poly men's basketball program closes the 2018 calendar year with two road games in the next three dates, starting with a Tuesday, Dec. 18 matchup at CSU Bakersfield on ESPN3. The Mustangs then close the week when hosting UTA inside Mott Athletics Center on Friday, Dec. 21. Tip time both evenings is 7 p.m. for the Mustangs (3-6), whose last two games have been decided by game-winning shots with sophomore wing Mark Crowe sinking a three-pointer at the buzzer to hand Cal Poly an 80-78 home win against Bethune-Cookman (Dec. 8) before California guard Paris Austin's jumper with 3.8 seconds to play edged the Mustangs, 67-66 (Dec. 15). Winners of three successive games, CSU Bakersfield has been idle for five days after topping Lamar at home, 86-65 (Dec. 13). UTA (3-7), which defeated Cal Poly exactly one year prior to Friday's matchup, has dropped six successive games entering its Tuesday visit to No. 4 Gonzaga.
FOLLOW CAL POLY THIS WEEK: Chris Sylvester will have the play-by-play call of Tuesday's visit to CSU Bakersfield and Friday's matchup versus UTA for ESPN 1280 in San Luis Obispo County and via GoPoly.com HERE … Vance Palm (play-by-play) and Greg Kerr (color commentary) will handle broadcast duties for ESPN3 at CSU Bakersfield HERE … live stats and streaming video of both games will also be available via GoPoly.com HERE.
CAL POLY VERSUS CSU BAKERSFIELD: Cal Poly has prevailed just once in its last nine visits to CSU Bakersfield, topping the Roadrunners, 77-61, on Jan. 29, 2011. CSU Bakersfield has won the last two overall matchups, edging Cal Poly on Nov. 16, 2011 (60-58) and Feb. 4, 2012 (69-66). Cal Poly leads the overall series (39-18), but CSU Bakersfield leads the Division I series (6-2).
CAL POLY VERSUS UTA AND THE SUN BELT CONFERENCE: The Mavericks won the only previous meeting between the two sides on Dec. 21, 2017 (77-56) … the Mustangs have only faced four programs from the Sun Belt Conference in program history: Louisiana (then Louisiana-Lafayette), Arkansas-Little Rock, Arkansas State and Texas State.
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 Tuesday's matchup at CSU Bakersfield ranked fifth among Big West players with a team leading 17.0 points per game. Topped by a career high 30-point effort versus Menlo College (Nov. 7), a 28-point showing against Bethune-Cookman (Dec. 8) and a 26-point performance at California (Dec. 15), Fields has scored 20-plus points five times this year and co-leads Cal Poly with six double-digit scoring games. He also owns four of Cal Poly's top five scoring games this season. The leading free throw shooter in Cal Poly program history at 87.9 (167-for-190) percent, Fields is averaging 12.7 career points per game and has scored in double figures 44 times in 71 (62.0 percent) Division I appearances. He requires just 95 more points to become the 24th player in program history to reach 1,000. Also one of the top distributors in Cal Poly history, Fields is fourth among Big West players at 4.1 assists per game and 10th in program history with 221 career assists.
AS THE CROWE LETS IT FLY: Cal Poly's co-leader with six double-digit scoring games after finishing with a career high 22 points at Fresno State (Dec. 1) and scoring 11 at California (Dec. 15), sophomore wing Mark Crowe now ranks 36th among NCAA Division I players with a 46.3 (19-for-41) percent three-point mark. Crowe, who has knocked down multiple three-pointers in six of nine games, also ranks seventh among Big West players with a 50.7 (35-for-69) percent field goal mark and 16th with 10.8 points per game.
HOLLINGSWORTH ON THE BLOCK: The fourth leading shot blocker in program history with 93 career blocks, junior forward Hank Hollingsworth requires just 43 more to match the program record of 136 established by Varnie Dennis (2000-04). Also the second leading shooter in program history at 61.5 (80-for-130) percent, Hollingsworth chalked up his third career double-double with career highs for points (14) and rebounds (12) versus USC Upstate (Nov. 24). On the boards, Hollingsworth leads Cal Poly and ranks ninth among Big West players with 5.8 rebounds per game.
FRESHMEN IN THE FOLD: Three members of Cal Poly's six-player freshman class have enjoyed an immediate effect on the program's success thus far. Having started Cal Poly's last three games, forward Daxton Carr is averaging 5.9 points per night. Carr has twice scored a career high nine points and grabbed a collegiate best 10 rebounds at Fresno State (Dec. 1). Guard Junior Ballard has appeared in all nine games and his five three-pointers at Fresno State marks the highest total by a Mustang this season. Forward Tuukka Jaakkola leads Cal Poly with 73.7 (14-for-19) field goal mark – a figure fueled by a career high 13-point performance at Portland (Nov. 23).
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 10.13 turnovers per 196 matchups (1,985 turnovers total). Cal Poly has led the Big West in fewest turnovers per game in five of the last six years.
INTO THE NIGHT: Dating to last season, Cal Poly has played seven overtime periods in its last 15 games. Including overtime wins this season versus USC Upstate (Nov. 24) and Bethune-Cookman (Dec. 8), Cal Poly has won its last three overtime games.
HOME IS WHERE THE (NON-CONFERENCE) WINS ARE: Under 10th-year head coach Joe Callero, Cal Poly is 27-9 inside Mott Athletics Center in non-conference home games. The Mustangs have won 10 of their last 12 home matchups versus non-Big West opposition.
LOOKING AHEAD (DEC. 24-30): Cal Poly's penultimate pre-Big West Conference matchup and final game of the calendar year comes at first-time opponent Siena on Saturday, Dec. 29 at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. PT. Making their return to the Empire State for the first time since topping Buffalo twice (Dec. 14-15, 1959) and falling at Adelphi (Dec. 16, 1959), Cal Poly has played a game in the Eastern Time Zone in each of the last two seasons after dropping matchups at Bethune-Cookman (Dec. 12, 2017) and Princeton (Dec. 31, 2016).
ETC.: Cal Poly improved to 39-1 against non-Division I programs with its 82-75, season-opening win versus Menlo College (Cal Poly transitioned to Division I prior to the 1994-95 season) … 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.