COMPLETE GAME PREVIEW (pdf)
SAN LUIS OBISPO – The Cal Poly men's basketball team plays the program's first game in New York state in 59 seasons and closes the 2018 calendar year with a Saturday, Dec. 29 matchup at Siena. Tip time inside the Times Union Center (Albany, N.Y.) is 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET) for Cal Poly (3-8), which looks to snap a three-game slide when visiting first-time opponent Siena (4-8). Saturday's matchup marks Cal Poly's first game in the Empire State 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 at Princeton (Dec. 31, 2016). Three of Siena's four victories this season have come by three points, with the Saints most recently defeating Robert Morris, 74-71 (Dec. 8). Siena, however, has dropped its last two games, falling versus College of Charleston, 83-58 (Dec. 18), and at Holy Cross, 60-57 (Dec. 22).
FOLLOW CAL POLY THIS WEEK: Chris Sylvester will have the play-by-play call of Saturday's matchup at Siena for ESPN 1280 in San Luis Obispo County and via GoPoly.com HERE … broadcasted via ESPN3 HERE, live stats and streaming video of the matchup will also be available via GoPoly.com HERE.
CAL POLY VERSUS SIENA AND THE METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC CONFERENCE: Cal Poly has never previously faced Siena … Cal Poly's only previous game versus a current MAAC program came on Dec. 14, 1973 with the Mustangs falling at Saint Peter's, 71-60.
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 Saturday's matchup at Siena ranked fifth among Big West players with a team leading 16.2 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 chalked up seven 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 88.2 (172-for-195) percent, Fields is averaging 12.7 career points per game and has scored in double figures 45 times in 73 (61.6 percent) Division I appearances. He requires just 70 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 3.9 assists per game and 10th in program history with 228 career assists.
AS THE CROWE LETS IT FLY: Cal Poly's leader with eight double-digit scoring games after finishing with a career high 22 points at Fresno State (Dec. 1), 18 versus UTA (Dec. 21), 14 at CSU Bakersfield (Dec. 18) and 11 at California (Dec. 15), sophomore wing Mark Crowe now ranks 19th among NCAA Division I players with a 49.1 (28-for-57) percent three-point mark. Crowe, who has knocked down multiple three-pointers in eight of 11 games, also ranks fifth among Big West players with a 52.3 (46-for-88) percent field goal mark and 12th with 11.7 points per game.
HOLLINGSWORTH ON THE BLOCK: The fourth leading shot blocker in program history with 95 career blocks, junior forward Hank Hollingsworth requires just 41 more to match the program record of 136 established by Varnie Dennis (2000-04). Also the second leading shooter in program history at 61.4 (81-for-132) 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 11th among Big West players with 5.3 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 five games, forward Daxton Carr is averaging 5.2 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 11 games and his five three-pointers at Fresno State marks the second highest total by a Mustang this season. He also notched new career highs for points (21) and rebounds (six) at CSU Bakersfield (Dec. 18). Forward Tuukka Jaakkola leads Cal Poly with a 71.4 (15-for-21) percent 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 10.23 turnovers per 198 matchups (2,026 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 eight overtime periods in its last 17 games. Including overtime wins this season versus USC Upstate (Nov. 24) and Bethune-Cookman (Dec. 8), Cal Poly has won three of its last four overtime games.
HOME IS WHERE THE (NON-CONFERENCE) WINS ARE: Under 10th-year head coach Joe Callero, Cal Poly is 27-10 inside Mott Athletics Center in non-conference home games. The Mustangs have won 10 of their last 13 home matchups versus non-Big West opposition.
LOOKING AHEAD (DEC. 31-JAN. 6): Cal Poly completes Big West Conference preparations with a Friday, Jan. 4 home matchup versus Division II Holy Names. The Mustangs handed the Hawks a 76-47 defeat last season and are 39-1 against non-Division I programs since transitioning to the Division I level prior to the 1994-95 season.
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.