GAME NOTES: The Cal Poly Mustangs look to bounce back on Saturday when they take on the Pacific Tigers in a Big West Conference battle at the Spanos Center.
The Mustangs had their three-game winning streak come to an end on Thursday as they suffered a hard-fought, 69-67, setback to the UC Davis Aggies on the road. Its inaugural Big West loss of the season puts Cal Poly back at the .500 mark overall and just 2-7 on the road. The first of those away wins came over the UCLA Bruins in late November. Cal Poly is netting just 65.9 points per contest, which is just a single point more than it is allowing opponents to produce.
Pacific has been sporadic on its way to an 8-7 record, but it is currently on the upswing, having won three of its last four. It has also been solid at the Spanos Center this season, posting wins in five of seven matchups. The Tigers are led in scoring by Lorenzo McCloud at 11.5 points per contest, but none of his teammates are joining him in double figures. Pacific has 10 different players registering 11 minutes per contest at more, which reduces playing time but keeps fresh legs on the floor. The Tigers are third in the conference in both field goal percentage (.473) and 3-point field goal percentage (.374).
Although it is behind in the all-time (32-13) and Division I (22-11) series against Pacific, Cal Poly has enjoyed some recent success against the Tigers. The Mustangs have won three of the past four games versus Pacific and held the Tigers below 40 points during each triumph
Dylan Royer and Chris Eversley stood out in Cal Poly's heart-breaker in Davis. Royer dropped in a career-best 19 points and Eversley tacked on 18 to register his 18 double-digit scoring outing during his previous 24 contests. The Mustangs' top scoring duo could not produce enough to help the squad avoid a loss on a buzzer beater by UCD's Corey Hawkins. Eversley has been especially deadly as of late, with 42 points and 11 rebounds over his past two appearances. Royer chips in 10.7 ppg while Jamal Johnson orchestrates the offense from the point. Johnson is leading all Big West players and ranks 25th nationally with a 2.87-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
The Tigers returned home on Thursday and came away with their second conference win of the season by defeating UC Santa Barbara, 80-62, after holding control for the majority of the bout. They put together one of their best shooting performances from 3-point range of the season in the victory, draining 13-of-28 from beyond the arc and assisting 23 of the 27 made field goals. The win was the second in a row and it came through Pacific's unusually deep rotation. Tony Gill was the catalyst with 17 points, while Travis Fulton and Ross Rivera tallied 11 points apiece.
Pacific's homecourt advantage gives it a slight edge over Cal Poly, but it is hard to predict how the inconsistent Tigers will perform. Pacific's high efficiency rating from the field should be enough, as the Mustangs rank last in the league in field goal percentage defense.
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