Ryan Chartrand

The Cal Poly men’s basketball team is not only trying to rebound from what head coach Kevin Bromley calls a “frustrating” Saturday loss at UC Riverside, but also from the announcement earlier this week that starting senior guard Dawin Whiten will likely be out for the rest of the season due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

In the first of two consecutive Big West Conference home games this week, the Mustangs host UC Irvine at 7 p.m. tonight in Mott Gym.

In the most recent meeting between the two teams, UC Irvine (9-12, 4-4 Big West) emerged 73-69 at home on Jan. 12, when a close contest that included a back-and-forth game of Cal Poly catching up was essentially ended by an Anteaters free throw with 1.2 seconds left to put the game out of reach.

“We had a chance to win that basketball game,” said Cal Poly head coach Kevin Bromley. “Mentally and physically we had to grind out some defensive stops at the end and couldn’t get them stopped.”

Senior forward Patrick Sanders, who is sixth in the conference in scoring, averaging 15.2 points per game, poses a unique threat to the Mustangs (8-12, 3-5 Big West).

Sanders is a “tough match-up,” Bromley says, because of his quickness as a power forward.

Also key to the Anteaters’ attack is senior center Darren Fells, who averages 13.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while shooting a conference-best 59.4 percent from the floor. He secured 11 rebounds on Jan. 12.

“Fells is terrific inside,” Bromley said. “He can go off on you and he’s strong and he’s physical.”

Cal Poly sophomore wing Charles Anderson feels that while the Anteaters’ inside tandem drives their offense, the Mustangs will need to focus just as much on their supporting cast.

“Fells and Sanders are going to get their points,” Anderson said. “If we can contain their role players, we’ll be all right.”

Leading Cal Poly should be junior guard Trae Clark, who heads the Mustangs with nine points and 3.4 assists per game, and senior forward Matt Hanson, who shoots 52.2 percent from the floor while averaging 5.4 rebounds per contest.

Clark has been practicing with a broken nose, which shouldn’t keep him from playing, Bromley said.

Senior guard Dawin Whiten, who started 18 games this sesaon before not playing in the Mustangs’ most recent game, the 62-58 loss at UC Riverside, is expected to be out for the remainder of the season due to foot injuries, Bromley said Monday, adding that sophomore Lorenzo Keeler would likely start in his place.

As a team, the Anteaters average 67.9 points per game while shooting 45 percent from the floor.

“Offensively, defensively, they’re very deliberate with the ball,” Bromley said. “Teams don’t score that much on them, and they don’t score a lot either. . It’s Big Ten basketball, I guess, at its best.”

UC Irvine is much the “same type of team,” Bromley said, that they were Jan. 12.

Though the Anteaters have an impressive 7-1 record at home, they struggle on the road, with a record of 2-8.

The Anteaters have won five of their past seven meetings with the Mustangs and hold a 17-13 advantage in the all-time series.

After taking on UC Irvine, the Mustangs will host Cal State Fullerton at 7 p.m. Saturday.

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