COMPLETE GAME PREVIEW (pdf)
SAN LUIS OBISPO – The Cal Poly men's basketball program closes a two-game home stand and chases its first Big West Conference victory of the year when hosting Cal State Fullerton inside Mott Athletics Center on Saturday, Jan. 26. Tip time is 7 p.m. for Cal Poly (4-13, 0-4), which remains the lone Big West program without a conference victory. The Mustangs, however, remain just one game behind eighth-place UC Davis (5-13, 1-3) in the Big West standings and two-and-a-half games back of third-place Cal State Fullerton (7-12, 3-2). The Titans moved into a third-place tie alongside CSUN on Thursday evening after handing previous Big West leader UC Santa Barbara its first conference loss. Cal State Fullerton, the defending Big West Tournament champion, enters Saturday's matchup having won three straight. In guards Kyle Allman (18.6 points per game) and Khalil Ahmad (17.7), the Titans feature the Big West's third- and fourth-ranked scorers.
FOLLOW CAL POLY THIS WEEK: Chris Sylvester will have the play-by-play call of Saturday's matchup versus Cal State Fullerton for ESPN 1280 in San Luis Obispo County and via GoPoly.com HERE … live stats and streaming video of the game will also be available via GoPoly.com HERE.
CAL POLY VERSUS CAL STATE FULLERTON: Cal Poly has dropped its last five matchups to Cal State Fullerton and last three meetings versus the Titans inside Mott Athletics Center. Cal Poly leads the all-time series (37-31), but the Titans hold the Division I (23-22) series edge.
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 versus Cal State Fullerton ranked sixth among Big West players with a team leading 16.7 points per game. Topped by career high 30-point efforts versus Menlo College (Nov. 7) and CSUN (Jan. 12), a 28-point showing against Bethune-Cookman (Dec. 8) and a 26-point performance at California (Dec. 15), Fields has scored 20-plus points six times this year and chalked up a team leading 13 double-digit scoring games. He also owns the top five scoring games by a Mustang this season. Fourth among Big West players at 34.2 minutes per game, Fields has played 147 of a possible 165 Big West minutes thus far. The leading free throw shooter in Cal Poly program history at 87.6 (183-for-209) percent, Fields is averaging 13.1 career points per game and has scored in double figures 51 times in 79 (65.0 percent) Division I appearances. One of only 24 players in program history to score 1,000 career points, Fields currently ranks 22nd all-time with 1,036 points. Also one of the top ball-handlers in Cal Poly history, Fields is third among Big West players at 4.7 assists per game and ninth in program history with 265 career assists. Regarding steals, he ranks third in the Big West at 1.6 per game and ninth in program history at 97.
AS THE CROWE LETS IT FLY: Now ranked third among NCAA Division I players with a 48.8 (40-for-82) percent three-point mark after knocking down 18 of his last 33 attempts, sophomore wing Mark Crowe has emerged as Cal Poly's second leading scorer at 11.2 points per game. Also second among Mustangs with 12 double-digit scoring games, Crowe scored a career best 22 points at Fresno State (Dec. 1) while notching 18 versus UTA (Dec. 21) and 16 at UC Davis (Jan. 19). Crowe, who has knocked down multiple three-pointers in 12 of 17 games, also ranks fifth among Big West players with a 52.8 (67-for-127) percent field goal mark and 18th in scoring.
HOLLINGSWORTH ON THE BLOCK: The fourth leading shot blocker in program history with 103 career blocks, junior forward Hank Hollingsworth requires just 33 more to match the program record of 136 established by Varnie Dennis (2000-04). Also the second leading shooter in program history at 60.9 (98-for-161) 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) and grabbed 10 boards against CSUN (Jan. 12). On the boards, Hollingsworth leads Cal Poly and ranks 13th among Big West players with 5.4 rebounds per game.
FRESHMEN IN THE FOLD: Two members of Cal Poly's six-player freshman class have enjoyed an immediate effect on the program's success thus far. Guard Junior Ballard has appeared in 15 of 17 games and his five three-pointers at Fresno State marks the second highest total by a Mustang this season. Ballard notched a new career high for points (21) at CSU Bakersfield (Dec. 18) and rebounds (seven) versus UTA (Dec. 21). With three double-digit scoring games – including 11 points versus CSUN (Jan. 12) – Ballard is averaging 5.1 points per game. Having started Cal Poly's last 11 games, forward Daxton Carr is averaging 3.7 rebounds per night. Carr has twice scored a career high nine points and grabbed a collegiate best 10 rebounds at Fresno State (Dec. 1).
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 10.22 turnovers per 204 matchups (2,085 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 nine overtime periods in its last 22 games. Including overtime wins this season versus USC Upstate (Nov. 24) and Bethune-Cookman (Dec. 8), Cal Poly has won three of its last five overtime games.
LOOKING AHEAD (JAN. 28-FEB. 3): Cal Poly's first road trip of Big West play comes at UC Riverside (Thursday, Jan. 31) and CSUN (Saturday, Feb. 2). Tip time both nights is 7 p.m. for Cal Poly, which completes its season series against UC Riverside on ESPN3 in an eight-day interval. Cal Poly also seeks just a third victory inside the SRC Arena in the last six attempts. The Mustangs then cap their season series with CSUN inside The Matadome – a venue where Cal Poly has split its last six decisions.
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).