Cal Poly’s Mott Athletics Center is on its way to becoming the Big West version of New Mexico State’s Pan American Center for Hawaii. Out of the way, grueling to get to and even more difficult to win at.
UH was 0-for-7 in Las Cruces, N.M., in seven years of WAC play against the NMSU Aggies.
The Rainbow Warriors can refute that storyline with a win there against seventh-place Cal Poly on Thursday. UH is 0-for-3 to date there, just one of two remaining Big West sites the Rainbow Warriors have not experienced victory. The other is Long Beach State, and UH will have to wait until next year for another crack at that one.
The game isn’t being televised, but is being livestreamed at www.BigWest.tv.
Cal Poly coach Joe Callero fully acknowledged the difficult travel getting to San Luis Obispo when he talked about UH’s past difficulties there this week. He said the five-hour plane ride and subsequent four-hour drive up from Los Angeles can be worth “five to 10 points” for his team.
Of course, UH has already been in California for more than a full week at this point, so the plane ride and time change would be less of a factor this time.
The Mustangs (10-10, 3-5) have suffered their share of close Big West losses so far, although they notched a 61-57 overtime win at Hawaii to kick off league play. Remember Reese Morgan‘s killer late-game 3s?
Morgan has actually been in and out of the lineup with knee soreness, but is expected to play for Poly. Lately, forwards Brian Bennett and Joel Awich have done much of their damage. Point guard Ridge Shipley has an expanded, starting role since the last time UH saw Poly.
On UH’s end, Benjy Taylor would like to see halfcourt execution akin to what UH did in the CSUN game to start this four-game trip — and definitely not the performance UH put on at Long Beach State to follow it up.
Aaron Valdes performed well against the Mustangs last time, with 20 points and five steals. Can he replicate it? It could be much-needed, with only Stefan Jankovic scoring it in double figures reliably of late.