Cal Poly Opens Big West Play versus UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton

Cal Poly Opens Big West Play versus UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton

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SAN LUIS OBISPO – The Cal Poly men's basketball program begins its 22nd season of Big West play and opens conference action at home inside Mott Athletics Center for first time in four seasons when hosting Blue-Green rival UC Santa Barbara on Thursday, Jan. 4 and Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, Jan. 6. Both games tip at 7 p.m. for Cal Poly (5-9), which has won four of its previous six Big West opening games and ranks 41st among 351 NCAA Division I programs at just 11.6 turnovers per game. Winners of 10 of its previous 11 games and with the highest victory total among Big West programs during non-conference play, UC Santa Barbara (11-3) leads the conference with 78.9 points per game, a 47.7 percent field goal mark and a 39.1 percent three-point mark. Cal State Fullerton (7-5), winners of six of its last eight, ranks third in the Big West at 73.2 points per game.

FOLLOW CAL POLY THIS WEEK: Chris Sylvester will have the call of Thursday's home matchup versus UC Santa Barbara and Saturday's meeting with Cal State Fullerton for ESPN 1280 in San Luis Obispo County and via GoPoly.com … live stats and streaming video will also be available via GoPoly.com.

CAL POLY VERSUS UC SANTA BARBARA: The most frequent opponent in Mustang program history, UC Santa Barbara has prevailed in seven straight meetings with Cal Poly's last victory against its rival a 69-38 decision to open the 2014 Big West Conference Tournament. Cal Poly also looks to snap a four-game home slide against UC Santa Barbara on Thursday. The Gauchos lead both the all-time (70-34) and Division I (36-13) series.

CAL POLY VERSUS CAL STATE FULLERTON: Cal State Fullerton's current three-game winning streak versus Cal Poly is its lengthiest in nine seasons. Cal Poly, however, has won four of its last seven home matchups versus Cal State Fullerton and leads both the all-time (37-29) and Division I (22-21) series.

THE WELL-ROUNDED DONOVAN FIELDS: Ranked seventh among approximately 5,500 NCAA Division I players with a 93.8 (30-for-32) percent free throw mark and second in Cal Poly's lineup at 13.1 points per game, junior guard Donovan Fields also enters Thursday's matchup versus UC Santa Barbara ranked second among Big West Conference players with 4.5 assists per game, fourth with 1.5 steals per game and 12th in scoring. Fields matched a career high with 23 points at Santa Clara (Nov. 18) and has reached double-digit scoring figures in nine of 14 games. Averaging 11.9 career points per game, Fields has scored in double figures 28 times in 45 (62.2 percent) Division I appearances. His 11-assist effort versus Pepperdine (Dec. 2) stands as the highest single game total in 263 games under ninth-year head coach Joe Callero.

WHEN IT COMES TO FREE THROWS, TAKE THE FIELDS: Having knocked down his first 28 free throw attempts of the season before finally missing against Princeton (Dec. 16), Donovan Fields ranks seventh among approximately 5,500 NCAA Division I players with a Big West Conference best 93.8 (30-for-32) percent free throw mark. On pace to eclipse the Cal Poly single season free throw record of 90.0 (54-for-60) percent set by guard Reese Morgan in 2012-13, Fields is also the leading free throw shooter in Cal Poly program history at 88.7 (102-for-115) percent.

JOSEPH PACKS THE SCORING PUNCH: Cal Poly's leader with 13 double-digit scoring efforts in 14 games – including five games of 15-plus points – senior guard Victor Joseph ranks ninth among Big West players at 13.6 points per game. Joseph is Cal Poly's single-game scoring leader this season alongside Donovan Fields with a 23-point effort against Idaho (Nov. 25). Having scored in double figures 28 times in 45 career games (62.2 percent), Joseph is averaging 12.5 career points per game for the Mustangs.

HOLLINGSWORTH LEADS CAL POLY ON BOTH ENDS: The Big West's leading shooter at 72.1 (31-for-43) percent and second leading shot blocker at 2.0 per game, 6-10 sophomore forward Hank Hollingsworth also paces Cal Poly with 5.5 rebounds per game. Having secured a second career double-double with a collegiate best 12 points and 10 rebounds versus Pepperdine (Dec. 2), Hollingsworth is a 63.8 (44-for-69) percent career shooter. Having blocked multiple shots in eight of 13 games this year, Hollingsworth – in just 42 career games – ranks eighth in program history with 55 career blocks.

MARTIN BACK ON THE BOARDS: Highlighted by his fourth and fifth career double-doubles versus Bethune-Cookman (Dec. 12) and Notre Dame de Namur (Dec. 30), junior forward Josh Martin has surged ahead as Cal Poly's leading rebounder at 5.3 boards per game. Martin is averaging 6.5 rebounds per his last six games after previously missing six games (Nov. 15-Dec. 2) through injury. Martin, who scored a career high 19 points at Bethune-Cookman and grabbed a season high 11 rebounds versus Notre Dame de Namur is also Cal Poly's fourth leading scorer at 8.0 points per game.

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 9.77 turnovers per 170 matchups (1,661 turnovers total). Cal Poly, 41st among 351 Division I programs thus far at 11.6 turnovers per game, has finished with a single-digit turnover figure five times this season with a low of just four versus Notre Dame de Namur (Dec. 30). Cal Poly has led the Big West in fewest turnovers per game in each of the last five years.

MUSTANGS FACE ANOTHER TESTING SCHEDULE THIS SEASON: Once again contesting one of the Big West Conference's more demanding schedules, Cal Poly will play nine games this season against opponents that qualified for the NCAA Tournament and NIT last year.

LOOKING AHEAD (JAN. 8-14): Following Saturday's matchup with Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly plays just one game in the ensuing 12 days when visiting Hawai'i on Wednesday, Jan. 10 at 9 p.m. PT. The Mustangs seek their first victory inside the Stan Sheriff Center since producing a 61-57, overtime decision on Jan. 7, 2015.

ETC: During a 73-68 win versus the College of Charleston (Nov. 22) – the first game in program history against the Cougars – Cal Poly set a new program record with a 100 (11-for-11) percent mark from the free throw line … Cal Poly's Dec. 19 visit to SMU marked the first time in NCAA Division I history that two schools which feature Mustangs as a mascot played … Cal Poly improved to 38-1 against non-Division I opposition with a 73-40 home victory versus Notre Dame de Namur on Dec. 30 (Cal Poly became a Division I program to begin the 1994-95 season).