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Men's Hoops Hosts Saint Mary's on New Year's Eve

Caleb Willis
Caleb Willis

Dec. 30, 2011

Pepperdine Men's Basketball Notes Get Acrobat Reader

MALIBU, Calif. -- The Pepperdine men's basketball team has a big New Year's Eve test when the Waves host Saint Mary's, one of the preseason favorites in the West Coast Conference. After beating San Francisco on Thursday, the Waves can improve to 2-0 in the league for the second time in three years with another win. This will be Pepperdine's first game played on New Year's Eve since 1996 (the Pepsi Onedia Classic in Green Bay, Wis., and a 58-54 loss to Austin Peay). In games known to have been played on Dec. 31, the Waves are 0-5 all-time.

GAME #13 -- Saturday (Dec. 31) at Firestone Fieldhouse: Pepperdine (7-5, 1-0) vs. Saint Mary's (12-2, 1-0) at 3 p.m.

ON THE WEB -- WaveCasts (Pepperdine's live video broadcasts of home games and audio broadcasts of all road contests) are free to all users at Veteran play-by-play man Al Epstein, now in his 27th season with the Waves, is behind the microphone. The Saint Mary's game will be his 800th straight broadcast. Also on the official website, fans can join an interactive live blog/chat using Cover It Live technology for all road games. Finally, follow the program on Twitter at @PEPPBasketball.

SAINT MARY'S -- Pepperdine leads Saint Mary's in the all-time series, 68-56. The Gaels have won nine straight and 15 of the last 16, however. Pepperdine's last win came on the road in 2007. The Gaels have won seven straight in Firestone Fieldhouse (the Waves' last home win came in 2004). Saint Mary's Coach Randy Bennett is a former Pepperdine assistant.

LAST GAME -- Corbin Moore scored a career-high 19 points to go with 12 rebounds to help Pepperdine beat San Francisco, 77-61, in the WCC opener for both schools on Thursday (Dec. 29). The Waves never trailed in the game and set season highs for points and field goal percentage (51.9%). They also held the Dons to a season-low point total. Moore had 10 of his rebounds in the first half and 14 of his points in the second half. The 19 points were the most scored by any Wave this season. Caleb Willis had 10 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Taylor Darby scored 14 points and Jordan Baker added 10. The Waves scored the first seven points of the game and ended the first half on an 8-0 run to take a 39-30 lead at the break. They then led by double-figures for much of the second half.

DEFENSE -- Marty Wilson preaches defense to his squad, and his players have responded. The Waves are allowing 60.5 points per game (#2 in the WCC). They allowed 74.0 points per game last season. For an entire season, Pepperdine hasn't held opponents below 70 points since 2000-01, and below 60 points since 1951-52. Opponents are shooting 39.8% from the field (which would be the Waves' best mark since 1961-62) and 33.8% on three-pointers (which would be the best since 1988-99). In a three-game stretch, Pepperdine held two Big Sky opponents to 40 points or less (Northern Arizona 40, Montana State 36). The last time Pepperdine held two teams to 40 points or less over the course of an entire season was 1951-52.

SCORING -- Two of the top 20 scorers in Pepperdine history are gone (Mychel Thompson, now in the NBA, was a senior and Keion Bell was suspended and later transferred to Missouri). Another one that's on pace to reach the top 20 (Lorne Jackson) is potentially out for the season with a knee injury. They were the top three scorers on the team last season and each of them averaged double-figures. Without those three, the Waves that are back account for only a little more than a third of last year's scoring. Without Jackson, senior forward Taylor Darby had the highest scoring average last season among available returners at 7.7 points per game.

SCORING PART TWO -- With so many points lost, the big question had been where the points would come from for the Waves. The answer so far: everyone's picked up some of the slack. Although overall scoring is down (69.4 to 62.1), Pepperdine's five returners that are seeing the most minutes are all on pace to set career highs for season scoring average. That includes seniors Taylor Darby (12.3 ppg) and Corbin Moore (11.3 ppg), the Waves' two players averaging in double-figures. Six different players have led Pepperdine in scoring, and each had at least a share of the team high in the season's first five games.

PLAYER NOTABLES -- Corbin Moore has had two straight double-doubles and has a team-high four this season. All of his career double-doubles have come this year. Moore scored a total of five points in the first two games of the season, but has been in double-figures in six straight and eight of the last 10. He never even attempted a three-pointer in the first 100 games of his career but has now hit eight in the last eight games ... Taylor Darby has scored in double-figures in four straight games and is averaging 14.0 points in tha time ... Caleb Willis is averaging 6.8 assists over the last four games. He's up to 4.5 assists per game for the season and is on a pace to become the first Wave to average more than four assists since Shaun Davis in 2003-04 ... Both Willis and Joshua Lowery (3.3 assists per game) have had more turnovers than assists in a game only once this season ... Willis and Jordan Baker both scored 10 points against USF. It was Willis' first time in double-figures in the last 11 games, and Baker's first time in the last seven games.

WCC STATS -- Individually in the conference, Taylor Darby is #13 in scoring (12.3), #9 in rebounding (6.6), #6 in blocked shots (1.0) and #7 in field goal percentage (.500) ... Caleb Willis is #1 in assist/turnover ratio (2.5), #2 in three-point percentage (.481), #4 in assists (4.5) and #10 (tied) in steals (1.3) ... Corbin Moore is #17 in scoring (11.3), #2 in rebounding (8.8) and #4 in blocked shots (1.2) ... Joshua Lowery is #4 in minutes played (32.8), #6 in assists (3.3), #7 in assist/turnover ratio (1.8) and #9 in free throw percentage (.793) ... Nikolas Skouen is #8 in three-pointers made (1.8) ... As a team, Pepperdine is #1 in offensive rebounds (12.6), #2 in scoring defense (60.5), field goal percentage defense (.398), three-point field goal percentage defense (.320) and rebounding margin (+6.2) and #3 in three-point field goal percentage (.375) and blocked shots (3.5).

SEASON NOTABLES -- Much progress has been made in Marty Wilson's first year: Pepperdine won its first two games of the season for the first time since 1999-2000 (the Waves made the NCAA Tournament that year) ... Only four head coaches have begun their full-time careers with 2-0 starts at Pepperdine: Wade Ruby (the program's first season in 1938-39), Robert Dowell (1948-49), Jan van Breda Kolff (1999-00) and now Wilson ... The last time Pepperdine recorded two true road wins among the season's first five games was 2002-03 ... That was also the last time the Waves won three of their first five road games ... Pepperdine already has its most true road wins in a season (three) since 2007-08 ... Pepperdine's win at Arizona State was its first against one of the old Pac-10 teams since the Waves beat both UCLA and USC in the 2001-02 season. Pepperdine had lost 11 straight games against former Pac-10 teams ... Pepperdine is above .500 in December for the first time since 2004-05 ... The Waves had a winning record at the start of WCC play for the first time since 2004-05 ... Pepperdine's winning margin of +23 vs. Montana State was its biggest since 1/26/2008 and an 87-64 (+23) home win against Loyola Marymount ... The Waves won their league opener for the fourth straight year.

INJURIES -- It's likely that at least three Waves are out for the season due to injuries. Senior guard Lorne Jackson may redshirt the season after having surgery this past summer to repair a torn ACL. An All-WCC honorable mention selection last season, Jackson would have been the team's top returning scorer at 13.2 ppg. Senior guard/forward Dane Suttle Jr. reinjured an ankle at the Arizona State game on Nov. 15 and will miss the remainder of the season after being diagnosed with a stress fracture that required surgery. Junior forward Moriba De Freitas didn't practice the first month and a half due to a knee strain and it's been decided that he will redshirt. Sophomore center Jan Maehlen fractured his right hand and missed a month before returning to action on Nov. 28 at UCLA. He played in three games, but then suffered a groin injury in mid-December that will keep him out at least four to six weeks.

ROTATION -- Pepperdine's primary eight-man rotation consists of two seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen (five returners and three newcomers).

SENIORS -- When Tom Asbury was hired in February 2008 and he had to rebuild practically the entire roster, he landed six freshmen during the late signing period. That class went on to lead the Waves in scoring as freshmen, sophomores and juniors. Now they're seniors, but because of injuries and transfers, only Taylor Darby and Corbin Moore are on the floor right now. As the top two scorers on the team at 12.3 and 11.3 ppg, respectively, they're on pace to be the highest-scoring class for the fourth consecutive year. The seniors are scoring 39.7% of the Waves' points this season.

ASSISTS -- Ball movement and unselfish play are key aspects to Pepperdine's offense. One of Marty Wilson's favorite statistics is how many baskets came via an assist. So far, 63.9% of Pepperdine's field goals have had an assist attached to them, which would be a school record. Only four previous teams have reached at least 60 percent, with a best of 61.8% in 1982-83.

ROSTER -- Four starters and 10 letterwinners are back from last season, and they're joined by six newcomers (three freshmen, two transfers and a walk-on). It's the third straight year that Pepperdine has had returners numbering in double-digits. The breakdown is six seniors, three juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen.

RETURNERS -- With Lorne Jackson's numbers included, Pepperdine's returning players account for 53.4% of last year's scoring (1,222/2,289), 55.9% of the rebounding (583/1,043), 66.2% of the assists (270/408), 43.3% of the blocked shots (42/97), 62.7% of the steals (121/193) and 59.8% of the minutes played (3,977/6,650). Without Jackson, those figures drop to 34.4% of the scoring (787/2,289), 46.7% of the rebounding (487/1,043), 42.6% of the assists (174/408), 38.1% of the blocked shots (37/97), 35.8% of the steals (69/193) and 46.2% of the minutes played (3,075/6,650).

WILSON -- After 21 seasons as an assistant coach, including nine at Pepperdine, Marty Wilson was elevated to the position of head coach of the Waves following the 2010-11 season. He has compiled an impressive record in Malibu as a student-athlete (1985-89), an assistant coach (1991-96, which included a brief stint as the interim head coach) and as the associate head coach the past three seasons (2009-11). He was also an assistant at San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and Utah inbetween stints at Pepperdine. Wilson ended his playing career #5 all-time in assists at Pepperdine with 342. The team went to the NCAA Tournament twice and the NIT twice in his four seasons on the court. As a Pepperdine assistant, the team went to the NCAA Tournament three times and the NIT once. Follow Coach Wilson on Twitter at @MartyWilson4.

ASSISTANTS -- Marty Wilson brought on two new coaches this season. Associate head coach Mark Amaral and Wilson were assistants together at UC Santa Barbara. Amaral was most recently the associate head coach at Cal Poly for two seasons. Assistant coach Bryant Moore worked with the Cleveland Cavaliers for five seasons in a variety of roles, including player development coordinator. Last year, he was a basketball operations assistant at Sacramento State. Damin Lopez, a former Pepperdine standout who still ranks among the school's top three-point shooters ever, was in his fourth season as an assistant coach, but left the program after being named head coach at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral High School on Dec. 7. Director of operations John Impelman will fill the role of assistant coach for the remainder of the season.

WCC -- The West Coast Conference got bigger and better when it added perennial NCAA Tournament participant Brigham Young to its roster of schools prior to 2011-12. A writer from CBS Sports named the WCC as the seventh-best basketball league in the nation during the preseason. The coaches' preseason poll went in the following order: Gonzaga, Saint Mary's, BYU, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Loyola Marymount, Portland, Pepperdine and San Diego.

NON-CONFERENCE -- The Waves went 3-2 against five non-conference opponents that reached the 2011 postseason. UCLA made the third round of the NCAA Tournament last season, while Texas-San Antonio won a first-round NCAA contest. Washington State advanced to the semifinals of the NIT. Hawai'i and Northern Arizona both played in the Tournament last season.

RECRUITS -- Pepperdine landed two promising high school seniors during the early signing period. The Waves signed a player from Arizona for the fourth straight season in 6-foot-6 forward Stacy Davis of Laveen Betty Fairfax High. Davis averaged 22.9 points and 9.7 rebounds last season at Tolleson High and is a two-time Arizona Republic all-state 5A honorable mention selection. Pepperdine went to Texas to sign 6-foot-5 shooting guard Atif Russell of Katy Seven Lakes High. He made the All-District 19-5A first team as a junior and averaged 15.1 points.

LAST SEASON -- After three years of helping to rebuild the foundation of Pepperdine basketball, head coach Tom Asbury retired following the 2010-11 season. Although the Waves went 12-21 overall and placed sixth in the WCC with a record of 5-9, Pepperdine won its most games since 2005 and equaled its best conference win-loss mark in the last five seasons. Lorne Jackson and Mychel Thompson both earned All-WCC honorable mention honors.

PEPPERDINE BASKETBALL -- This is the 74th season of Pepperdine men's basketball, and the Waves began the campaign with an all-time record of 1,130-955 (.542). Pepperdine has been to the NCAA Tournament 13 times (last in 2002) and has won 12 West Coast Conference regular-season titles (last in 2002) and three WCC Tournament crowns (last in 1994). Did you know that William "Bird" Averitt led the nation in scoring in 1972-73 with 33.9 points per game?

BEST IN THE WEST -- Pepperdine has long been one of the top Division I programs on the West Coast. Over the 33-season period from the 1978-79 season through the 2010-11 campaign, of the 32 schools that currently play Division I basketball in California, Oregon or Washington, the Waves began the 2011-12 season sixth overall in postseason appearances (16), seventh in winning percentage (.545) and eighth in wins (544) over the past 33 years.

WAVES IN THE PROS -- Mychel Thompson has begun a new streak of Pepperdine players in an NBA uniform, as he made the Cleveland Cavaliers' opening-day roster as an undrafted free agent. Sadly, a streak of 34 consecutive seasons with at least one Pepperdine alum on an NBA roster ended in 2010-11. The most recent NBAers, Yakhouba Diawara and Alex Acker, went back to Europe. The streak began in 1976-77 after the ABA/NBA merger. Thompson will be the 17th former Pepperdine player to have gone on to the NBA, a list that includes notables such as Dennis Johnson (a 2010 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee, the 1979 NBA Finals MVP and a three-time NBA champion) and Doug Christie (a 15-year NBA veteran who was a mainstay on the All-Defensive Team).

ABOUT PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY -- Pepperdine boasts a one-of-a-kind athletic department with unprecedented success for a school of its size. The Waves have won NCAA Division I championships in five different men's sports -- one of just 16 schools to have accomplished this feat -- and nine overall. Of this elite group, Pepperdine has the smallest enrollment and is the only school not associated with a BCS conference. Located in scenic Malibu, Calif., the university overlooks the Pacific Ocean and its campus and athletic facilities are regularly voted among the nation's most beautiful. Pepperdine, which is affiliated with the Church of Christ, ranks #55 overall on U.S. News and World Report's list of America's best colleges. The 2011-12 school year marks Pepperdine's 75th anniversary.



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