Pacific (11-17) at Cal Poly (16-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 10:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mott Gym (3,032) -- San Luis Obispo, California. Television: KSBY. Home Record: Pacific 8-7, Cal Poly 9-4. Away Record: Pacific 3-10, Cal Poly 5-10. Neutral Record: Pacific 0-0, Cal Poly 2-0. Conference Record: Pacific 6-9, Cal Poly 7-8. Series Record: Pacific leads, 32-12.
GAME NOTES: The Pacific Tigers bring down the curtain on the 2011-12 regular season tonight, as they pay a visit to the Cal Poly Mustangs for a Big West Conference clash at Mott Gym in San Luis Obispo, California.
Pacific's season has not been a successful one overall, as the team has won just 11 of its 28 games, and it is in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Big West standings with UC Riverside and UC Irvine, all with a 6-9 conference mark. The Tigers lost to UC Santa Barbara on Thursday, 76-61, for their 10th road loss in 13 tries this year.
At 16-14 overall, Cal Poly has racked up the fourth-most wins in the conference, though with a Big West record of just 7-8, it is just a game up on Pacific in the standings. The Mustangs have been solid at Mott Gym this year, going 9-4, which includes a 69-56 win over UC Davis on Thursday.
Pacific has a convincing 32-12 advantage in the all-time series with Cal Poly, and the Tigers bounced back from a Mustang series sweep in 2010-11 by claiming the first matchup this season in a 61-51 final on Jan. 26 in Stockton.
Pacific's offense hasn't been much to brag about this season, as it ranks seventh in the Big West in scoring (64.3 ppg) while piecing together sub par shooting percentages from the field overall (.408) and three-point range (.323). The Tigers' woes continued on Thursday, as they connected on 43.4 percent of their total shots and failed to score 70 points for the sixth consecutive game. Ross Rivera was the lone player to score in double figures in the loss, coming off the bench to contribute 17 points. Rivera has been effective in his role as a key reserve, averaging 11.4 ppg on 50.3 percent field goal efficiency. Lorenzo McCloud matches Rivera's scoring output (11.4 ppg) while also leading the team in assists (3.5 apg). Efficiency has been a problem for McCloud however, as he shoots just 38.5 percent from the floor, including a dreadful 19.4 percent from three-point range. Pacific makes up for its lackluster offense at times with solid ball control, as it ranks second in the conference in turnover margin (+1.59).
Cal Poly's success this season can be directly attributed to its top-ranked defense in the Big West, as the team yields an average of 61.6 ppg. The Mustangs were stout yet again in Thursday's win, holding UC Davis to just 56 points. Their field goal percentage is usually modest at best (.425), but they managed to drain 50 percent of their total shots in the win over the Aggies. David Hanson tallied 16 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. The front court is Cal Poly's biggest strength, with Hanson (11.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Will Taylor (10.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg) anchoring the low block, while Taylor also ranks third in the conference in field goal percentage (.532). Amaurys Fermin chips in with 9.7 ppg and dishes out 3.7 apg, second- best in the league. As a team, Cal Poly has positive margins in both rebounding (+4.8) and turnovers (+1.0).
Pacific's struggling offense going up against Cal Poly's tough defense is a nightmare matchup for the Tigers. The home court advantage is just the icing on the cake for the Ponies, who will head into next week's conference tournament on a winning note.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal Poly 66, Pacific 58
03/03 10:41:02 ET