UC Davis (14-16) at Cal Poly (17-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 14, 5:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Honda Center (18,336) -- Anaheim, California. Television: FSN-PT. Home Record: UCD 6-7, Cal Poly 13-1. Away Record: UCD 6-9, Cal Poly 4-11. Neutral Record: UCD 2-0, Cal Poly 0-0. Conference Record: UCD 9-9, Cal Poly 12-6. Series Record: Cal Poly leads, 32-14.
GAME NOTES: Facing each other for the first time in the postseason, the UC Davis Aggies take on the Cal Poly Mustangs in a Big West Conference Tournament quarterfinal-round battle a the Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday afternoon.
The Aggies enter the event on a two-game losing streak, most recently dropping an 88-85 decision to UC Irvine at home. The Aggies, who finished the regular season two games under .500 (14-16), but an even 9-9 in conference.
Winners of five successive games to close the regular season, including a 62-60 nail-biter versus Cal State Fullerton last Saturday, the Mustangs are just 6-10 in 10 previous appearances in the Big West Tournament. Aside from conference tournaments, Cal Poly has never played a postseason game in 19 Division I seasons.
Cal Poly hammered the Aggies at home this season, 68-53 (Feb. 9), but dropped a 69-67 decision at UC Davis (Jan. 10) after sophomore guard Corey Hawkins, the 2012-13 Big West Newcomer of the Year, buried a jumper with three-tenths of a second remaining to sink the Mustangs. Overall, Cal Poly has won 11 of the past 14 meetings against the Aggies, and leads the all-time series by a 32-14 count.
Hawkins scored a game-high 21 points last Saturday night, but visiting UC Irvine rallied from a 19-point halftime deficit to upend UC Davis at The Pavilion. Sophomore J.T. Adenrele added 18 points for the Aggies, who led 47-28 at halftime, while Ryan Sypkens had 12 points and Paolo Mancasola finished with 10.
Big West scoring champ, Hawkins (20.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.3 apg), has reached double figures in all but one game this season, and he has hit the 30-point plateau five times, including a career-best 40 points against Hawaii. Hawkins isn't the only talented scorer on the roster, as Ryan Sypkens (14.3 ppg) and J.T. Adenrele (12.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg) can each fill the state sheet as well. Led by Hawkins, the Aggies are scoring a healthy 72.3 ppg while shooting the best percentage from the field (.477) among Big West teams. Their defense has not been as proficient, as they are giving up 72.5 ppg, third-worst in the Big West.
Senior guard Chris O'Brien and junior forward Chris Eversley both finished with a team-leading 14 points last Saturday, as Cal Poly closed the 2012-13 regular season and its greatest year inside the Mott Athletics Center by notching a two-point win over Cal State Fullerton. Eversley added a game-high seven rebounds for Cal Poly, which set new program records for Big West victories (12) and Big West winning percentage (.667). The Mustangs also finished 13-1 inside the Mott Athletics Center this year to set new Division I program records for single-season home wins, fewest home losses, and home winning percentage (.929).
Eversley (16.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.1 apg) is the frontcourt 'jack of all trades' for the Mustangs. The 6-foot-7 forward's primary strengths are in scoring and rebounding, which he leads the team in both. Beyond him, the cupboard is somewhat bare, with Dylan Royer (9.9 ppg) and Brian Bennett (9.7 ppg) the next-best options. As a result of their lack of offensive firepower, the Mustangs rank eighth in the 10-team conference in both scoring (66.0 pg) and field goal percentage (.429), although their 3-point shooting has been effective (.380), good for second-best in the league. Eversley has also been the only player to really put forth a consistent effort on the glass as the Mustangs rank ninth in the Big West in rebounding (31.7 pg). What has allowed them to be successful this season has been a scoring defense that yields a league-low 63.4 ppg.
The Mustangs are the hotter team coming into this matchup and their defense is top in the Big West, so look for them to bottle up the Aggies' scoring and move on to the semifinal round.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal Poly 66, UC Davis 64
03/14 10:33:42 ET