The Cal Poly men’s basketball program completes preparations for Big West Conference action and opens the 2019 calendar year when hosting Division II Holy Names inside Mott Athletics Center on Friday, Jan. 4. Tip time is 7 p.m. for Cal Poly (3-9), which looks to snap a four-game slide in its final non-conference game of the regular season. Holy Names (4-9), Cal Poly’s second non-Division I opponent of the 2018-19 season, enters Friday’s game having dropped its last two matchups, falling most at Concordia on New Year’s Eve, 85-72.
CAL POLY VERSUS HOLY NAMES AND NON-DIVISION I OPPOSITION: Cal Poly won the only previous matchup with Holy Names, defeating the Hawks last season, 76-47 (Nov. 15, 2017) … since transitioning to the Division I level prior to the 1994-95 season, Cal Poly is 39-1 against non-Division I programs and 13-1 in similar games under ninth-year head coach Joe Callero.
FIELDS REMAINS CAL POLY’S CATALYST: One of Cal Poly’s top two scorers during each of his three seasons as a Mustang, senior guard Donovan Fields enters Friday’s matchup versus Holy Names ranked sixth among Big West players with a team-leading 15.8 points per game. Topped by a career-high 30-point effort versus Menlo College (Nov. 7), a 28-point showing against Bethune-Cookman (Dec. 8) and a 26-point performance at California (Dec. 15), Fields has scored 20-plus points five times this year and chalked up eight double-digit scoring games. He also owns four of Cal Poly’s top five scoring games this season. The leading free throw shooter in Cal Poly program history at 88.2 (172-for-195) percent, Fields is averaging 12.7 career points per game and has scored in double figures 46 times in 74 (62.2 percent) Division I appearances. He requires just 59 more points to become the 24th player in program history to reach 1,000. Also one of the top distributors in Cal Poly history, Fields is fourth among Big West players at 4.2 assists per game and 10th in program history with 235 career assists.
AS THE CROWE LETS IT FLY: Now ranked ninth among NCAA Division I players with a 51.7 (31-for-60) percent three-point mark after knocking down nine of his last 11 attempts, sophomore wing Mark Crowe has emerged as Cal Poly’s second-leading scorer at 11.8 points per game. Also Cal Poly’s leader with nine double-digit scoring games, Crowe scored a career-best 22 points at Fresno State (Dec. 1) while notching 18 versus UTA (Dec. 21), 14 at CSU Bakersfield (Dec. 18) and 13 at Siena (Dec. 29). Crowe, who has knocked down multiple three-pointers in nine of 12 games, also ranks fourth among Big West players with a 54.8 (51-for-93) percent field goal mark and 13th in scoring.
HOLLINGSWORTH ON THE BLOCK: The fourth-leading shot blocker in program history with 95 career blocks, junior forward Hank Hollingsworth requires just 41 more to match the program record of 136 established by Varnie Dennis (2000-04). Also the second leading shooter in program history at 62.6 (87-for-139) percent, Hollingsworth chalked up his third career double-double with career highs for points (14) and rebounds (12) versus USC Upstate (Nov. 24). He also recorded 12 points at Siena (Dec. 29). On the boards, Hollingsworth leads Cal Poly and ranks 12th among Big West players with 5.3 rebounds per game.
FRESHMEN IN THE FOLD: Three members of Cal Poly’s six-player freshman class have enjoyed an immediate effect on the program’s success thus far. Having started Cal Poly’s last six games, forward Daxton Carr is averaging 4.7 points per night. Carr has twice scored a career-high nine points and grabbed a collegiate-best 10 rebounds at Fresno State (Dec. 1). Guard Junior Ballard has appeared in all 12 games and his five three-pointers at Fresno State marks the second-highest total by a Mustang this season. Ballard also notched new career highs for points (21) and rebounds (six) at CSU Bakersfield (Dec. 18) and is averaging 5.1 points per game. Forward Tuukka Jaakkola leads Cal Poly with a 72.7 (16-for-22) percent field goal mark – a figure fueled by a career-high 13-point performance at Portland (Nov. 23).
CAL POLY’S QUALITY CONTROL: No Division I program has committed fewer turnovers per game since the beginning of the 2012-13 season than Cal Poly, which has averaged just 10.25 turnovers per 199 matchups (2,040 turnovers total). Cal Poly has led the Big West in fewest turnovers per game in five of the last six years.
INTO THE NIGHT: Dating to last season, Cal Poly has played eight overtime periods in its last 18 games. Including overtime wins this season versus USC Upstate (Nov. 24) and Bethune-Cookman (Dec. 8), Cal Poly has won three of its last four overtime games.
HOME IS WHERE THE (NON-CONFERENCE) WINS ARE: Under 10th-year head coach Joe Callero, Cal Poly is 27-10 inside Mott Athletics Center in non-conference home games. The Mustangs have won 10 of their last 13 home matchups versus non-Big West opposition.
LOOKING AHEAD (JAN. 7-13): Cal Poly opens its 23rd season of Big West Conference play when visiting UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday, Jan. 9 and hosting CSUN on Saturday, Jan. 12. Tip time is 7 p.m. both evenings for Cal Poly, which has won five of its last seven Big West openers, including overturning a 21-point, first-half deficit versus UC Santa Barbara year ago.
ETC.: Cal Poly improved to 39-1 against non-Division I programs with its 82-75, season-opening win versus Menlo College (Cal Poly transitioned to Division I prior to the 1994-95 season) … the 13,995-fan attendance figure for Cal Poly’s Nov. 11 game at Arizona marked the largest crowd for a Mustangs game since 17,995 fans packed the Scottrade Center in St. Louis for the program’s 2014 NCAA Tournament second-round matchup versus Wichita State (March 21, 2014) … Cal Poly’s scheduled Nov. 16 game at Sacramento State was postponed due to continued poor air quality related to the Camp Fire (a makeup date has not yet been announced) … Cal Poly’s Nov. 19 matchup at Washington State marked the program’s first and only meeting against the Cougars since Feb. 10, 1976 and leaves Oregon (one all-time meeting) as the least frequent Pac-12 Conference opponent in Mustang history … Cal Poly’s six-game road trip from Nov. 11-Dec. 1 marked the fourth time in five years the Mustangs embarked on a road trip of six games or lengthier … tenth-year head coach Joe Callero moved into sole possession of third place on the Cal Poly career victories chart with his 122nd win as Mustang head coach during the program’s Nov. 24 triumph versus USC Upstate. Having surpassed Steve Beason (1986-95) for third place in program history, Callero ranks 18th in career victories in Big West Conference history … Cal Poly’s 80-78 home win versus Bethune-Cookman marked the program’s first victory versus a MEAC program … Cal Poly’s Dec. 29 matchup at Siena marked the program’s first game in New York state in 59 seasons and first game against a MAAC opponent since visiting Saint Peter’s on Dec. 14, 1973.
–Provided by Cal Poly