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Cal Poly Opens Year at Santa Clara Friday, North Dakota State Monday

Cal Poly Opens Year at Santa Clara Friday, North Dakota State Monday

COMPLETE WEEKLY PREVIEW (pdf)

SAN LUIS OBISPO – The Cal Poly men's basketball program begins the 2019-20 season, its 26th year of Division I action and a two-game road trip when visiting Santa Clara on Friday, Nov. 8. Tip time from the Leavey Center is 7 p.m. for Cal Poly, which closes its season-opening road trip at 2019 NCAA Tournament qualifier and defending Summit League Tournament champion North Dakota State on Monday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. PT (1 p.m. CT). Under the direction of first-year head coach John Smith, Cal Poly returns three starters and six letterwinners from last season. At Santa Clara, Cal Poly seeks its first win in a season opener against a Division I opponent since topping San Jose State at home on Nov. 12, 2011 (79-52). Cal Poly's last season-opening victory on the road came a year prior with a 76-60 decision at Seattle (Nov. 14, 2010). Overall, Cal Poly is 10-15 in season opening games at the Division I level. Santa Clara (16-15 last season) opened its season on Tuesday with a 97-52 home victory against UC Santa Cruz. North Dakota State (19-16), which defeated North Carolina Central in the NCAA Tournament First Four last year before being eliminated by top-seeded Duke, began its year with a 67-53 loss at Kansas State on Tuesday. The Bison host in-state NAIA Mayville State on Thursday evening.

FOLLOW CAL POLY THIS WEEK: Chris Sylvester returns to the mic to provide play-by-play for Cal Poly's Friday matchup at Santa Clara and Monday game at North Dakota State for GoPoly.com HERE … video and live stats of both matchups will also be available via GoPoly.com HERE.

CAL POLY VERSUS SANTA CLARA: Facing Santa Clara for just the sixth time at the Division I level, Cal Poly has won the last three matchups versus the Broncos – a streak capped by a 63-59 victory inside the Leavey Center (Nov. 18, 2017). With the first meeting between the two programs a 77-62 home victory by Santa Clara on Dec. 13, 1978, the all-time series is level, 4-4.

CAL POLY VERSUS NORTH DAKOTA STATE AND THE SUMMIT LEAGUE: The Mustangs and Bison have never previously met with Monday's matchup marking the Cal Poly program's first game in the Garden State. Following Monday's game, Cal Poly will have faced eight of the nine current Summit League programs with Denver the only exception. The Mustangs last faced a Summit League program in Purdue Fort Wayne, splitting a pair of home-and-home matchups during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

CAL POLY CLIFSNOTES; A MUSTANG PRIMER: Comprising Cal Poly's returning unit is 6-4 guard Job Alexander, 6-10 senior forward Hank Hollingsworth and 6-5 junior wing Mark Crowe. Alexander started Cal Poly's final 11 games of last season and scored in double figures five times a year ago. Hollingsworth, a career 59.1 percent shooter, requires just 24 more blocks to overtake the program record of 136 established by Varnie Dennis (2000-04). Crowe, who started 28 of 29 games last season, recorded 17 double-digit scoring games and ranked 41st among NCAA Division I players with a 40.8 percent three-point mark … Cal Poly's remaining returning letterwinners include sophomore guards Junior Ballard and Jared Rice and 6-10 sophomore forward Tuukka Jaakkola. Ballard was averaging 5.1 points per game last year before sustaining a season-ending injury after 15 appearances. Rice made 17 appearances during his first season last year while Jaakkola shot 63.3 percent during his initial year on campus …making their debuts in the Mustang lineup this winter will be junior 6-7 junior forward Nolan Taylor, 6-0 junior guard Keith Smith, 6-6 freshman forward Kyle Colvin, and 6-3 guard Colin McCarthy – all of whom redshirted their first seasons on campus last year … during the offseason, Cal Poly added two graduate transfers in 6-5 wing Malek Harwell and 6-3 guard Jamal Smith … as a junior at Boise State last season, Harwell appeared in 32 of 33 games and shot 81.6 percent from the foul line. Smith, son of head coach John Smith, appeared in all 34 of Cal State Fullerton's games last year after helping the Titans to the 2018 Big West Conference Tournament title … signing National Letters of Intent in the offseason and set to debut for the Mustangs are 6-5 guard Colby Rogers (Covington, GA / Roselle Catholic HS-N.J.) and 6-8 forward Alimamy Koroma (Freetown, Sierra Leone / Prolific Prep Academy-Calif.).

LOOKING AHEAD (Nov. 11-17): Cal Poly begins its 13-game home schedule inside Mott Athletics Center and five-game non-conference home slate when hosting NAIA Simpson on Friday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. Since transitioning to the Division I level prior to the 1994-95 season, Cal Poly is 40-1 against non-Division I programs.