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Big West weekly review-preview

Another week of Big West Conference games created a traffic jam of teams in the middle of the standings at the halfway point of the regular season. Sooner or later, some will have to forge ahead, while others fall back.

UC Irvine (7-2) and Hawai’i (5-3) remained at the top of the standings, despite subpar weeks. The Anteaters went 1-1, while the Rainbow Warriors went 0-2 on the road.

Right behind the two leaders are a pack of five teams separated by just one game. UC Santa Barbara, which beat both UCI and Hawai’i last week, and CSUN are tied for third place at 5-4; UC Davis, UC Riverside, and Cal Poly are tied for fifth place at 4-5.

In essence, the next four weeks are crucial for every team in the conference. Here is a look back at last week’s results, and a look ahead to this week.

UC Santa Barbara makes a statement

The Gauchos got themselves back in contention by beating second-place Hawai’i on Thursday, then first-place UC Irvine on Saturday.

UCSB was picked to finish second in the Big West Conference Preseason Poll, but opened the conference season with a 2-4 record. The Gauchos are now on a three-game winning streak and have moved up to third place at 5-4.

Home is where the wins are

This is not necessarily a surprising statistic, but still interesting to note. Home teams have a 26-14 record in Big West games so far this season. Six teams have winning records at home so far: UC Irvine 5-0, Hawai’i 4-0, Cal Poly 4-1, CSUN 3-1, UC Riverside 3-1 and UC Santa Barbara 3-2.

In contrast, only one team has a winning road record in conference play: UC Davis at 3-2.

Player of the Week

As noted above, UCSB had a big week, and their big man played a big role. Gaucho forward Amadou Sow was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week after averaging 25.5 and 8.0 rebounds per game in UCSB’s two wins.

The 6-foot-9 sophomore  scored 30 points on 12-of-13 shooting in a victory over Hawai’i, then recorded 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting and 10 rebounds in a win over first-place UC Irvine.

Best game of last week

Cal Poly 79, Hawai’i 75 (OT). The Rainbow Warriors led by 13 points in the first half, then lost that lead early in the second half. The Mustangs then led by 15 points with less than eight minutes remaining in the second half, but lost that lead in the closing minute.

Cal Poly had a 17-0 run early in the second half; Hawai’i had a 19-4 run late in the second half. Perhaps fittingly, the Mustangs won the game with a 7-0 run to end overtime.

Game to watch this week

UC Irvine at Hawai’i, Saturday. Both teams have games to play earlier in the week. UCI is at UC Riverside on Wednesday, and Hawai’i hosts Long Beach State on the same night. Depending on the outcome of those Wednesday games, Saturday’s contest could be a showdown for first place in the conference.

ESPN2 is sending a crew to Honolulu to televise the game.

This week’s games
Wednesday

UC Irvine at UC Riverside
Long Beach State at Hawai’i

Thursday
UC Santa Barbara at UC Davis
Cal Poly at CSUN

Saturday
UC Riverside at Long Beach State
CSUN at UC Davis
Cal Poly at Cal State Fullerton
UC Irvine at Hawai’i

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