Regardless of whether the Cal Poly men’s basketball team can make good on its bid to exercise some demons tonight, the whole country will get to see it.
As part of “Big Monday,” ESPN2 will nationally televise the Mustangs’ Big West Conference contest at Pacific at 8 p.m., when they’ll try to win their second game in 20 tries in Stockton.
“I don’t think we’re as excited about the TV part of it as we are the challenge of playing them,” said Cal Poly head coach Kevin Bromley.
While Bromley emphasized the on-court focus of the game, he did speak favorably of the value in the national broadcast.
“It’s really good for the conference,” he said, adding that the 6,150-capacity Alex G. Spanos Center is the ideal venue to represent the Big West. “We’ve had those discussions as coaches – if we’re going to have (national) TV games, we’ve got to put our best facilities forward.”
Cal Poly’s only win at the Spanos Center, a “tough place to play,” Bromley said, came Feb. 15, 2004, 67-64.
Pacific has since beaten the Mustangs four times in a row there.
The Tigers (14-5, 5-1 Big West), who have won six of seven, are coming off of a 71-58 win at UC Santa Barbara on Thursday. Chad Troyer led them with 27 points.
Troyer, though, is second on the team in scoring, behind junior guard Steffan Johnson, who averages team highs of 15.4 points, 4.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
Junior forward Anthony Brown chips in 11.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per outing for the Tigers, while shooting 56.4 percent from the floor.
As a team, Pacific leads the conference in field-goal percentage, shooting 49.2 percent, and is No. 2 in field-goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 42.3-percent shooting.
“(Pacific) is terrific,” Bromley said. “We have to prepare for it being the most physical game we’ve played this year. . We’ve always had a tough time scoring the ball there – in the past they’ve just locked us down. We’ve got to get them loosened up.”
The Tigers also have hit the glass better than anyone else in the conference, out-rebounding opponents by 5.4 boards per game.
Meanwhile, the Mustangs (7-11, 2-4 Big West) are coming off of a 79-67 home win over UC Davis on Thursday.
Senior forward Dreshawn Vance led Cal Poly with a career-high 19 points, while three others added at least 10 points in the win.
One of those contributors, sophomore guard Lorenzo Keeler, started for just the third time this season.
Keeler is Cal Poly’s second-leading scorer, behind junior guard Trae Clark, who posts team highs of 9.2 points and 3.6 assists per game.
Bromley said Keeler would probably start again, with the only change in the Mustangs’ lineup possibly being the absence of freshman wing Shawn Lewis, who is a game-time decision due to a knee injury.