The Cal Poly men’s basketball team will attempt to add to its two-game winning streak at UC Riverside at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Coming off of a tough win Monday at Pacific, which came in large part due to clutch performances including a 3-pointer from senior forward Matt Hanson and four free throws by junior guard Chaz Thomas, the Mustangs stand at 8-11 overall and 3-4 in Big West Conference play.
UC Riverside’s record is dismal by comparison – the Highlanders, helmed by first-year head coach Jim Wooldridge, have struggled to a 4-15 mark thus far, including a 1-7 record in the Big West.
Their only conference win came 70-66 over Long Beach State on Jan. 19.
Though the two teams’ records seem to indicate that Cal Poly has the upper hand, all four of UC Riverside’s wins have come at home, while the Mustangs are just 2-7 on the road. The Highlanders’ leading scorer, senior guard Larry Cunningham, posts a dangerous 14.4 points per game, while no Mustangs average more than 9.4, respectively.
Cal Poly has won its past six meetings with UC Riverside, and 11 of the past 12.
Last year, the Mustangs topped the Highlanders 67-64 at Mott Gym and then 70-54 on the road.
Instrumental to another Cal Poly win could be its size advantage; just one of UC Riverside’s top 10 scorers is listed as weighing at least 220 pounds, while 6-foot-7, 240-pound junior center Titus Shelton has started every game this season for Cal Poly.
The Mustangs may be on the verge of posting a victory similar to the more lopsided one they boasted against the Highlanders from a season ago, as they suddenly appear on the brink of a hot streak.
Against Pacific, four Mustangs scored in double figures, and as a team, they hit 26 of 28 shots from the free-throw line – roughly 93 percent.
They also outscored the Tigers by 16 points in the first half, and at one time were ahead by 17.
UC Riverside is averaging a conference-worst 57.3 points per game, while the Mustangs post a more high-octane 64.5.
The Highlanders are also last in the Big West in 3-point shooting, at 28.9 percent, assists, with 10.4 per outing and assist-to-turnover ratio (.63).
Saturday’s game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net Prime Ticket, the Mustangs’ second widely televised contest in a row.
The all-time series between the two teams stands at 36-34, with UC Riverside holding the slim advantage.