After the UC Santa Barbara men’s basketball team saw their record-breaking 13-game win streak come to an end with their two-game split against the UC Riverside Highlanders last weekend, the Gauchos will look to continue to break records and end the regular season strong as they face off against their longtime rivals, the Cal Poly Mustangs.
While the Gauchos have been making history, Cal Poly has been doing the opposite. Heading into the weekend, Cal Poly is on a seven-game losing streak and is in sole possession of last place in the Big West with a conference record of 1-13.
Cal Poly’s failures this season can be attributed to their anemic offense. The Mustangs’ leading scorer, Alimamy Koroma, is averaging only 12.9 points per game, while the best playmaker on the team, Keith Smith, dishes out 3.6 assists per game. The player with the second-highest assist average is getting only 1.9 helpers every contest. This season-long scoring drought has caused frustration within the team as the Mustangs have five total ejections on the year. Only two Gauchos have been ejected from games this season. As a team, Cal Poly scores about 61.3 points per game. When comparing these offensive stats to UCSB, the difference is night and day.
Although the Gaucho’s only mustered up 52 points in their 16-point defeat to UC Riverside last week, UCSB’s team average for points per game still stands at a healthy 76.3 points. Even in the defeat, Big West Player of the Year candidate JaQuori McLaughlin was able to improve his scoring average which now stands at a team-leading 16 points and 5.4 assists per game. The Gauchos will look to keep up their offensive prowess as they take on a vulnerable Mustangs’ defense that is giving up an average of 71 points per game.
After getting blown out twice by Hawaii three weeks ago, Cal Poly has been scrappy but has not been able to achieve victory. In their next four losses, Cal Poly’s largest defeat was by only eight points and is coming off a heartbreaking overtime two-point defeat to the UC Davis Aggies. Cal Poly was not able to score a single point in the overtime period, while UC Davis hit a single bucket to secure the win.
UCSB is looking to bounce back after their unprecedented run of 13 straight victories that saw them ascend to the top of the Big West rankings came to an end against UC Riverside. Although the Gauchos squeaked out a win the first time they played the Highlanders, they were not prepared for their game the next day as they were defeated by double digits. Their defeat last Saturday was their first since they were swept by UC Irvine when conference play began back in December. The Gauchos can use this loss as motivation as they begin to prepare for their contests against Cal Poly and the Big West Tournament.
UCSB and Cal Poly’s rivalry in men’s basketball dates back to 1937, and the two teams have been playing Division I basketball since the 1949-50 season. Since competing as D1 opponents, UCSB has experienced a substantial amount of success against the Mustangs. According to Sports Reference, UCSB has won 75% of their games against Cal Poly while playing D1 basketball with a record that currently stands at 42-14. UCSB also leads in all-time matchups as they have won 82 times while playing 117 games against Cal Poly. UCSB will look to continue their winning ways against Cal Poly as the two teams face off in their weekend doubleheader.