The last time the UCSB men’s basketball team played Cal Poly at Mott Gymnasium in San Luis Obispo, the team lost 60-57 after the Mustangs made a layup and hit two free throws in the final 30 seconds.
[media-credit id=20280 align=”alignleft” width=”166″][/media-credit] At 4-3 in the conference and 8-10 overall, the Mustangs are the only team above .500 in Big West play in the conference besides 7-2 Long Beach State. While UCSB has a 63-31 all-time record against its rivals, the team needs to play well to beat a Mustang squad that lost by only six points to #4 San Diego State on Dec. 13, which just dropped to 20-1 after losing to #9 BYU last night.
If the Gauchos win, they will break a four-way tie for fourth place in the conference and overtake the Mustangs in conference play. UCSB (10-7 overall, 3-3 Big West) was predicted to finish first in the conference in a pre-season conference coaches’ poll, but a hip injury to starting forward Jaime Serna through December and half of January has depleted the team’s offensive arsenal. The team is also 3-5 on the road.
UCSB is led by its two-headed monster, which consists of junior forward James Nunnally and junior guard Orlando Johnson. While Johnson leads the Gauchos — and the conference — in scoring at 19.3 points per game, Nunnally is a close second with 18.2.
The Mustangs are led by David Hanson’s 15.2 points per game and Shawn Lewis’ 13.4 points per game. In the team’s last game — an 80-65 loss at Cal State Northridge, Lewis had 24 points.
UCSB is also coming off a conference loss that broke a two-game winning streak, losing 63-58 to Cal State Fullerton.
Tonight’s game is set for 7 p.m. before UCSB returns home on Saturday to face Cal State Northridge.