Cal Poly (7-6) at UC Davis (4-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 10, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Pavilion (8,000) -- Davis, California. Television: None. Home Record: Cal Poly 5-1, UCD 1-3. Away Record: Cal Poly 2-5, UCD 1-6. Neutral Record: Cal Poly 0-0, UCD 2-0. Conference Record: Cal Poly 3-0, UCD 0-2. Series Record: Cal Poly leads, 31-13.
GAME NOTES: The Cal Poly Mustangs will attempt to stay perfect in Big West Conference play on Thursday night, as they pay a visit to the UC Davis Aggies.
Following back-to-back losses to Santa Clara (72-64) and Washington (75-62) in mid-December, Cal Poly fell to 4-6, but since then it has surged over .500 for the first time all season with three straight wins to start its conference schedule. The Mustangs closed out a brief two-game homestand last Saturday with a 72-67 victory over UC Irvine.
Considering its 5-26 record in 2011-12, UC Davis at least appears to be on its way to an improvement this year, but at 4-9 it has still has considerable work to do. The Aggies began a three-game homestand last Saturday with a date against Pacific, and they fell to 0-2 in league play after suffering a 74-64 loss.
The Mustangs hold a comfortable 31-13 advantage in the all-time series with the Aggies, which includes wins in both matchups last season.
Cal Poly opened up an 11-point halftime lead only to cough it up down the stretch to allow UC Irvine to lead by as many as six in the second half, but it finished up strong by scoring 23 points in the final eight minutes to secure the five-point win. Chris Eversley was fantastic in the triumph, shooting 7-of-11 from the field and 10-of-12 from the foul line on his way to 24 points. Chris O'Brien was also a big factor, tallying 16 points and four assists coming off the bench. On the season, the Mustangs get outshot from the field by their opponents, 46 percent to 42.6 percent, but they are still able to score more points (65.8 ppg to 64.6 ppg) by logging a plus-2.8 turnover margin. Eversley has been one of the Big West's best forwards this season, as he leads the team in both scoring (15.7 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 rpg). Dylan Royer chips in with 10.1 ppg, albeit on only 40.4 percent shooting. Brian Bennett adds 9.8 ppg to the mix.
UC Davis kept its matchup with Pacific close well into the second half, even cutting its deficit to two points with 8:07 to play, but the Tigers went on a run and eventually handed the Aggies the 10-point defeat. Corey Hawkins did his best to keep his team in it, shooting 5-of-7 from the floor and 8-of-8 from the foul line en route to 19 points while also coming up with three steals. J.T. Adenrele chipped in 14 points, while Josh Ritchart came off the bench to add 10 points and six assists. Scoring hasn't really been an issue for the Aggies this year, as they shoot an impressive 46.1 percent from the field in netting 72.1 ppg, but while they allow foes to shoot just 41.1 percent, they surrender the third-most points in the conference (73.9 ppg) because they get into a lot of foul trouble, allowing teams to attempt nearly 21 free throws per contest. Hawkins leads the club and is fourth in the league in scoring at 17.8 ppg, although his percentages from the field (.392) and 3- point range (.235) leave much to be desired. Ryan Sypkens (15.0 ppg) is the conference's most efficient shooter from beyond the arc (47-of-92, .511), while Adenrele (10.9 ppg) and Ryan Howley (6.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg) are also solid contributors.
UC Davis appears to be much improved from the doormat it was a season ago, but it still possesses some glaring holes in its game. Cal Poly has shown it can win on the road in conference, and it should be able to outlast the Aggies in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal Poly 68, UC Davis 65
01/10 10:36:54 ET