COMPLETE WEEKLY PREVIEW (pdf)
SAN LUIS OBISPO – The Cal Poly men's basketball program opens its 23rd season of Big West Conference action when visiting Blue-Green rival UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday, Jan. 9 inside The Thunderdome before hosting CSUN on Saturday, Jan. 12 inside Mott Athletics Center. Tip time against the two highest scoring Big West programs is 7 p.m. each evening for Cal Poly (4-9), which has won five of its last seven Big West openers – including overturning a 21-point, first-half deficit versus UC Santa Barbara a year ago. Winners of five of its last six games and having totaled the fewest losses among Big West programs thus far, UC Santa Barbara (11-3) leads the conference with just 64.3 points allowed per game, a 48.1 percent field goal mark and 40.1 rebounds per game. CSUN (6-10), averaging a Big West leading 77.8 points per game alongside UC Santa Barbara, has won three of its last five games after beginning the year with just one victory in six. The Matadors open their Big West schedule Wednesday at UC Riverside.
FOLLOW CAL POLY THIS WEEK: Chris Sylvester will have the play-by-play call of Wednesday's matchup at UC Santa Barbara and Saturday home game versus CSUN for ESPN 1280 in San Luis Obispo County and via GoPoly.com HERE … live stats and streaming video of both games will also be available via GoPoly.com HERE.
CAL POLY VERSUS UC SANTA BARBARA: The Mustangs seek their first win at UC Santa Barbara since delivering a 72-64 victory on Jan. 11, 2014. Overall, however, Cal Poly has won just once at UC Santa Barbara in its last 11 trips south. The most frequent opponent in Cal Poly's program history, UC Santa Barbara won last year's matchup inside The Thunderdome, 86-61 (March 3, 2018) and eliminated Cal Poly from the 2018 Big West Tournament with a 75-53, quarterfinal-round win. The Gauchos lead both the all-time (72-35) and Division I (38-14) series
CAL POLY VERSUS CSUN: The Mustangs have prevailed in eight of their last nine home matchups versus CSUN – including a 90-86, double-overtime victory last season (Feb. 22, 2018). CSUN, the second most frequent opponent in Cal Poly's history, trails in the all-time series (55-47), but leads in Division I matchups (21-20).
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 Wednesday's matchup at UC Santa Barbara ranked sixth among Big West players with a team leading 15.8 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 nine 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 88.3 (174-for-197) percent, Fields is averaging 12.8 career points per game and has scored in double figures 47 times in 75 (62.7 percent) Division I appearances. He requires just 42 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 4.3 assists per game and 10th in program history with 241 career assists.
AS THE CROWE LETS IT FLY: Now ranked sixth among NCAA Division I players with a 51.6 (33-for-64) percent three-point mark after knocking down 11 of his last 15 attempts, sophomore wing Mark Crowe has emerged as Cal Poly's second leading scorer at 11.9 points per game. Also Cal Poly's leader with 10 double-digit scoring games, Crowe scored a career best 22 points at Fresno State (Dec. 1) while notching 18 versus UTA (Dec. 21), 14 at CSU Bakersfield (Dec. 18) and 13 at Siena (Dec. 29). Crowe, who has knocked down multiple three-pointers in 10 of 13 games, also ranks fifth among Big West players with a 55.0 (55-for-100) percent field goal mark and 13th in scoring.
HOLLINGSWORTH ON THE BLOCK: The fourth leading shot blocker in program history with 97 career blocks, junior forward Hank Hollingsworth requires just 39 more to match the program record of 136 established by Varnie Dennis (2000-04). Also the second leading shooter in program history at 61.8 (89-for-144) percent, Hollingsworth chalked up his third career double-double with career highs for points (14) and rebounds (12) versus USC Upstate (Nov. 24). He also recorded 12 points at Siena (Dec. 29). On the boards, Hollingsworth leads Cal Poly and ranks 12th 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 seven games, forward Daxton Carr is averaging 4.3 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 13 games and his five three-pointers at Fresno State marks the second highest total by a Mustang this season. Ballard also notched new career highs for points (21) and rebounds (six) at CSU Bakersfield (Dec. 18) and is averaging 5.0 points per game. Forward Tuukka Jaakkola leads Cal Poly with a 69.6 (16-for-23) 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 200 matchups (2,046 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 19 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 28-10 inside Mott Athletics Center in non-conference home games. The Mustangs have won 11 of their last 14 home matchups versus non-Big West opposition.
LOOKING AHEAD (JAN. 14-20): Cal Poly looks to snap a six-year winless drought inside The Pavilion at UC Davis when visiting the Aggies in a 5 p.m. matchup on Saturday, Jan. 19. Cal Poly's last road victory versus the Aggies was a 67-65 decision on Jan. 28, 2012 with UC Davis having won nine of the last 11 meetings – including a 92-84, triple-overtime contest in San Luis Obispo last February.
ETC.: 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 … Cal Poly's Dec. 29 matchup at Siena marked the program's first game in New York state in 59 seasons and first game against a MAAC opponent since visiting Saint Peter's on Dec. 14, 1973 … Cal Poly improved to 40-1 against non-Division I programs with its 68-47 win versus Holy Names (Cal Poly transitioned to Division I prior to the 1994-95 season).