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Cal Poly (15-13) at UC Santa Barbara (15-9)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 25th, 11:00 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: UCSB Thunderdome (5,600) -- Santa Barbara, California. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Cal Poly 8-4, UCSB 8-3. Away Record: Cal Poly 5-9, UCSB 7-6. Neutral Record: Cal Poly 2-0, UCSB 0-0. Conference Record: Cal Poly 6-8, UCSB 9-4. Series Record: UC Santa Barbara leads, 59-32.

GAME NOTES: With just a few more games to go before the start of the Big West Conference Tournament, both the Cal Poly Mustangs and the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos try to improve their conference standing tonight when the two teams meet up at The Thunderdome.

Cal Poly is having a fine season overall at 15-13 and though it is just 6-7 in the Big West, that record is good enough for a tie for fourth place in the conference standings. Though the Mustangs have earned five wins on the road this year, they have played six of their last eight games away from home and have only come away victorious once. They faced Northern Colorado in a BracketBuster bout last Saturday, losing to the Bears in an 81-73 final.

UC Santa Barbara is surely anxious to play its final three games at home after playing seven of its last eight on the road. Despite the tough stretch, the Gauchos won six times to move to 15-9 overall and 9-4 in conference play. Event though they've been riding a hot streak, the Gauchos ran into a buzz-saw on Wednesday, losing to first-place Long Beach State by a score of 70-58.

UCSB has a comfortable lead in the all-time series with Cal Poly, 59-32. The Gauchos have continued their dominance over the Mustangs in recent years, winning eight of the last nine matchups.

Much of Cal Poly's success this season has come as a result of it solid play at the defensive end of the court, as foes are netting a league-low 61.4 ppg against the Mustangs. The defense has been compromised recently however, as the Ponies have allowed an average of 87.5 ppg over the last two games and they allowed Northern Colorado to shoot 61 percent from the floor last Saturday, which spoiled a decent 44.6 percent shooting night for the Mustangs. Chris Eversley tallied 18 points and seven boards in the loss and though he averages just 7.8 ppg and 4.7 rpg on the year, he has hit for 13.6 ppg and 6.9 rpg in the seven games since he's been inserted into the starting lineup. Cal Poly's modest offense (65.1 ppg) is paced by David Hanson (11.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Will Taylor (10 ppg, 6.9 rpg). Amaurys Fermin scores just shy of 10 ppg and hands out a team-high 3.6 apg.

UCSB has the luxury of having perhaps the Big West's best player on its side in Orlando Johnson. The senior leads the league in scoring at 20.0 ppg and is a contributor across the stat sheet, tallying 6.0 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.9 bpg and 2.0 three-pointers per outing, all while shooting 44.9 percent from the field. Johnson logged 20 points in Wednesday's game against Long Beach State, but the Gauchos as a whole struggled mightily from the field at just 35.7 percent, and they committed a 19 turnovers as the 49ers remained unbeaten in conference play. James Nunnally has been a great complement to Johnson this season, scoring 15 ppg and grabbing a team-high 6.4 rpg. UCSB's scoring margin of +4.9 is the third-best in the conference behind LBSU and Fullerton, the only two teams ahead of it in the standings.

Though both teams are coming off losses, UCSB has been playing much better than Cal Poly of late and with the home fans rocking The Thunderdome, the Mustangs will have a difficult time toppling the Gauchos.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Santa Barbara 70, Cal Poly 62

02/25 10:41:13 ET