Long Beach State is the third different school in three weeks to occupy first place in the men's basketball standings. The Beach host Black and Blue rival UC Irvine and UC Davis this week.
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Long Beach State Leads Logjam
Long Beach State is the new leader as teams approach or are at the midpoint of the men’s basketball conference schedule.
The Beach extended their winning streak to three straight after winning twice on the road last week against Cal Poly and CSUN. With a 6-2 record in conference play, LBSU has five teams in close pursuit of the lead – all five are within a game and a half. UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara are one-half game back.
This is the third straight week the Big West has had a different team in first place – Cal State Fullerton, Hawai‘i and now LBSU. The Beach begin a four-game homestand with two tough challengers this week in UC Irvine and UC Davis as they seek to stay atop the league.
Aggie Home Streak Reaches 19
UC Davis extended its home court winning streak to 19 straight after toppling CSUN and Cal Poly last week. The streak is currently the fourth-longest nationally. Only Cincinnati (37), Purdue (20) and Vermont (20) have longer streaks. UC Davis is next in action at home on Feb. 8 against UCSB. The Aggies hit the road this week against CSUN and LBSU.
Gauchos Getting It Done
UC Santa Barbara is 9-0 at home entering Thursday’s showdown against Hawai‘i. The Gauchos will attempt to match their best home start in school history, 10-0, set in 1989-90. Dating back to last season, UCSB has won 10 straight in the Thunderdome, the program’s longest streak since the 10 in a row to begin the 1989-90 campaign. In addition, UCSB’s 16-5 start is the program’s best since 2007-08 when that team began 16-5 and eventually moved to 17-5.
On The Tube, On The Tablet
Four games will be available this week via Big West broadcast partners ESPN, Fox Sports West and WatchESPN.
Wed., Jan. 31 – UC Irvine at Long Beach State
Thur., Feb. 1 – UC Davis at CSUN
Sat., Feb. 3 – UC Davis at Long Beach State
Sat., Feb. 3 – UC Irvine at Cal State Fullerton
Just 21 games into the 2017-18 season, UCSB’s 16 wins represents two and a half times more than the six posted in 2016-17. UCSB is just one of 18 squads in the 49-year history of Big West basketball to boast a +10 turnaround in the win column – and that’s with nine games to go in the regular season. The all-time record of +16 is shared by Utah State (1981-82 to 1982-83) and UC Davis (2013-14 to 2014-15).
Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State are the only two teams with three Big West road wins – and both have played the most road games (5) of anyone in the conference. Both have five home games to go.
PRIOR TO TIPOFF
UC RIVERSIDE AT CAL POLY (BIGWEST.TV) - Both schools attempt to end losing streaks. Cal Poly has lost six straight and UC Riverside is on a nine-game skid. The Mustangs can go up by two games on the Highlanders for the eighth and final Big West Tournament slot with a win. Cal Poly has made 10 threes in each of its last two games and is shooting nearly 50 percent (20-of-41) from distance in that stretch. UCR guard Chance Murray handed out a career-high 11 assists in Saturday’s loss to UC Santa Barbara.
UC IRVINE AT LONG BEACH STATE (PRIME TICKET) - A huge game between the Black and Blue rivals as UC Irvine attempts to sweep the season series for the second time in three years. The Beach average a league-leading 78.8 points per game through eight Big West games. However, defense has really helped key LBSU’s 6-2 record. In the six wins, LBSU opponents are shooting 42.1% (154-of-366). In the two losses – against UCI and UC Davis – the opponents shot 50.8% (66-of-130). UCI boasts the Big West’s stingiest defense in terms of points allowed per game (63.0) and field goal percentage defense (.397). PXP: Sam Farber • COLOR: Corey Maggette • SIDELINE: Rahshaun Haylock
UC DAVIS AT CSUN (WatchESPN) - UC Davis played suffocating defense in last week’s two wins over CSUN and Cal Poly, limiting them to combined 39.2% (40-of-102) shooting. The Aggies held sizable advantages on the inside, earning an 84-38 edge in points in the paint scoring. CSUN senior Tavrion Dawson is playing at a high level with three double-doubles in his last four games. PXP: Rahshaun Haylock • COLOR: Richie Schueler • SIDELINE: Megan Reza
HAWAI‘I AT UC SANTA BARBARA (BIGWEST.TV) - UC Santa Barbara has lost two Big West games – each by one point. Hawai‘i handed the Gauchos a 77-76 setback in Honolulu on Jan. 13. UCSB’s starting five has combined for 1,406 of the team’s 1,623 points – nearly 87 percent of the total scoring. Hawai‘i freshman Drew Buggs is the Big West assists (5.3 apg) and steals (2.2 spg) leader in conference play. UCSB’s Leland King II has 10 or more boards in seven of the last nine games. He is No. 1 in rebounding (11.6 rpg) during Big West action.