Don’t look now, but if the Cal Poly men’s basketball team wins tonight, it will have reached the .500 mark this late in the season for the first time since a 6-6 start to the 2003-04 campaign.

But to get there, the Mustangs (7-8, 1-3 Big West Conference) will have to defeat visiting Sacramento State at 7 p.m. in Mott Gym. The game is Cal Poly’s final tune-up before playing its next four games – three of which in conference – on the road, where the Mustangs are 0-6.

“They’re talented, they’ve had a couple good wins,” Cal Poly assistant coach Bob Lowe said of Sacramento State. “They’re quick, they’re athletic. If I were to compare them to somebody in conference, it’d probably be someone like Fullerton or Long Beach State. They try to beat you off the dribble.”

Lowe spoke Monday at a weekly press conference in head coach Kevin Bromley’s absence.

The Hornets (7-11, 2-4 Big Sky Conference) picked up perhaps their best win of the season against a Big West team when they edged visiting Pacific 74-72 in overtime Dec. 6.

Sacramento State, which is 2-8 on the road, has been outrebounded by an average of 4.8 boards per game, but is plus-5.6 in the turnovers per game column.

As for Cal Poly, the Mustangs will try to improve to 7-1 at home.

“We feel good about where we’re at right now,” Lowe said. “The thing that we really worked on the last couple weeks has been taking care of the ball offensively and making sure we get good shots. I think we’ve worked hard on that.”

The Mustangs are benefiting from the play of four sophomores in their rotation – starting point guard Trae Clark (7.1 points per game, 3.1 assists per game), starting center Titus Shelton (7.9 ppg, 5.5 rebounds per game, 1.9 blocks per game), backup point guard Chaz Thomas (5.6 ppg) and reserve combo guard Rick Higgins, who is shooting .346 from 3-point range.

“I think they’ve done a great job,” Lowe said of the youthful players. “All those guys played a lot as freshmen so we were counting on them going into the season. I think that they’ve continued to mature as players and we hope they’ll continue to.”

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