Men's Basketball Ends Regular Season at Santa Clara on Thursday

Caleb Willis

Feb. 21, 2012

Pepperdine Men's Basketball Notes Get Acrobat Reader

MALIBU, Calif. -- The Pepperdine men's basketball team heads to Santa Clara for its regular-season finale on Thursday. Coming off a solid home victory over Portland on Senior Night, the Waves would like to head into the WCC Basketball Championships with some momentum. Pepperdine is trying for its first regular-season sweep of Santa Clara since 2002. Though the Waves could be either the #7 or #8 seed at the WCC Tournament, the outcome of Thursday's game will play no part in determining it.

GAME #28 -- Thursday (Feb. 23) at the Leavey Center in Santa Clara, Calif.: Pepperdine (9-18, 3-12) at Santa Clara (8-19, 0-14) at 7 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 on Dec. 31 was his 800th consecutive broadcast at Pepperdine. 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.

TELEVISION -- The Pepperdine-Santa Clara game will be shown live on both Prime Ticket and Comcast SportsNet California. Ted Robinson and Dan Belluomini are the announcers.

SANTA CLARA -- Pepperdine trails the all-time series with Santa Clara, 68-55. The Waves could sweep the regular-season series for the first time since 2002. Last season, the Broncos swept the regular-season series for the first time since 1984. Prior to last season, the two schools had split the regular-season series in eight straight years. Pepperdine has lost six straight at Santa Clara. The last time Marty Wilson was head coach in a game at Santa Clara, he was the interim head coach at the 1996 WCC Tournament when the eighth-seeded Waves upset the top-seeded and Steve Nash-led Broncos, 63-60, in the first round.

LAST GAME VS. SANTA CLARA -- Back on Jan. 28 at Firestone Fieldhouse ... Jordan Baker had a big first half, Taylor Darby did the same in the second half and Pepperdine put together an excellent performance with a 74-62 home win over Santa Clara. Baker scored 13 of his team-high 15 points in the first half as Pepperdine took a 32-28 halftime lead. Darby scored 12 of his 14 in the second half as the Waves went up by as many as 19 points. Corbin Moore had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Joshua Lowery scored 13 off the bench. The Waves made six of eight three-pointers and outscored Santa Clara 20-6 at the free throw line. Thirteen offensive rebounds led to a 22-4 advantage in second-chance points and Pepperdine forced a season-high 18 turnovers.

LAST GAME -- Taylor Darby (17 points) and Corbin Moore (10 points) enjoyed a successful Senior Night as Pepperdine defeated Portland, 70-65, in the Waves' home finale on Saturday (Feb. 18). The win allowed Pepperdine to match Portland with three league wins apiece, with the Waves holding the tiebreaker as things stand. Jordan Baker also scored 17, Joshua Lowery had 14 and Caleb Willis added six points and team highs of nine rebounds and six assists. The Waves used an 18-3 run toward the start of the second half to take a 47-34 lead with 11 minutes remaining.

WCC TOURNAMENT -- Pepperdine will either be the #7 seed (and play sixth-seeded San Diego on Thursday, March 1), or the #8 seed (and play ninth-seeded Santa Clara in the opening-round game on Wednesday, Feb. 29). Pepperdine's fate is in the hands of Portland. If the Pilots either win at home against Saint Mary's on Thursday or at BYU on Saturday, it would push the Waves down to the #8 seed. If Portland loses both, Pepperdine will earn the #7 seed.

HALL OF HONOR -- Pepperdine and the WCC announced last week that Dana Jones will be the school's inductee into the conference's Hall of Honor at the upcoming WCC Basketball Championships in Las Vegas. Jones was the 1993 WCC Player of the Year and was a 2010 inductee into Pepperdine's Athletic Hall of Fame. He is one of just a few Waves to play in four postseasons. He is the school's all-time leader in rebounds (1,031) and is #2 in scoring (1,677).

DEFENSE -- Marty Wilson preaches defense to his squad, and his players have responded. The Waves are allowing 65.9 points per game, which would be the program's sixth-best mark in the last 50 years. They allowed 74.0 points per game last season. For an entire season, Pepperdine hasn't held opponents below 70 points since 2000-01. 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, who saw time in the NBA this season, 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 redshirting due to a knee injury. They were the top three scorers on the team last season and each of them averaged double-figures. Without Jackson, senior forward Taylor Darby had the highest scoring average last season among available returners at 7.7 points per game. With the non-returners and both Jackson and Dane Suttle Jr. sidelined, available players only scored a little more than a quarter (28.7%) of last year's points.

SCORING PART TWO -- As might be expected with so many points lost, the team's overall scoring is down this season (69.4 to 59.3). But on the plus side, 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 (12.0 ppg) and Corbin Moore (10.3), the Waves' two players averaging in double-figures. Six different players have led Pepperdine in scoring, with no one doing it more than 10 times.

SECOND HALVES -- One thing that's been clear over the last two months is that even after falling behind, Pepperdine hasn't given up. Eight of the last nine times an opponent has taken a double-digit lead, the Waves have fought back in the second half to get the score back into single digits (once taking the lead). In 10 of the last 11 losses, Pepperdine's been right in the game in the latter part of each contest, facing deficits of seven, three, two, six, four, eight, two, two, seven and six over the game's final 10 minutes. But, each of those 10 losses ended up with a margin between nine and 15 points, meaning the Waves need to learn how to sustain their strong second-half bursts to the very end.

ACADEMICS -- Taylor Darby was named a CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-District first team selection on Feb. 2 and will now be on the ballot for Academic All-American honors. Both he and Corbin Moore could become three-time WCC All-Academic first team selections this season.

PLAYER NOTABLES -- Taylor Darby leads the team in scoring (12.0 ppg) even though he's only been the team's high scorer nine times this season, including the career-high 21 points he recently scored against BYU (Jan. 21) and the 20 he recorded at Seattle (Feb. 16) ... Darby made his 100th career start at Saint Mary's on Jan. 19. Since the games started stat was first kept in 1972-73, he became the eighth Wave to reach that milestone ... Corbin Moore has more than doubled his career scoring and rebounding averages this season. He was at 3.6 points and 3.9 rebounds after three seasons but is at 10.3 points and 8.4 rebounds this season ... Moore had a career-high 20 points at Seattle (Feb. 16) and pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds at Saint Mary's (Jan. 19), the most by any Wave since 2008 ... All seven of his career double-doubles have come this season, including four in WCC play (seven ties the most by a Pepperdine player in a season in the last 11 years) ... In the first 100 games of his career, Moore never attempted a single three-point shot. In game #101, his first attempt came with 10.1 seconds left at UTSA (Nov. 26) and he made it, sending the game to overtime. He's made 20 more three-pointers since then (including nine in the last four games) ... Moore (29) and Darby (23) both set personal bests for blocked shots midway through the season ... Jordan Baker is the team's top scorer in league play at 11.6 points per game. He's scored in double-figures in 10 of 15 WCC games after doing it just once in the first 11 non-conference games ... Baker scored 26 points at San Francisco on Jan. 14, the most by any Wave this season ... Caleb Willis (103) is the first Wave to record 100+ assists in a season since 2007, and currently has the most since 2005.

WCC STATS (OVERALL) -- Individually, Taylor Darby is #13 in scoring (12.0), #12 in rebounding (5.8) and #9 (tied) in blocked shots (0.9) ... Corbin Moore is #2 in rebounding (8.4), #5 in blocked shots (1.1) and #10 in minutes played (30.4) ... Caleb Willis is #4 in assist/turnover ratio (2.1) and #5 in assists (3.8) ... Joshua Lowery is #6 in minutes played (32.0), #8 in assist/turnover ratio (1.6), #9 in assists (3.0) and #10 in free throw percentage (.768) ... Jordan Baker is #10 in steals (1.2) ... As a team, Pepperdine is #1 in offensive rebounds (11.9) and #3 in scoring defense (65.9).

WCC STATS (CONFERENCE ONLY) -- Individually, Jordan Baker is #18 in scoring (11.6), #8 in minutes played (31.7) and #10 in steals (1.4) ... Corbin Moore is #2 in rebounding (8.5) and #9 (tied) in blocked shots (1.0) ... Caleb Willis is #7 in assist/turnover ratio (1.8) and assists (3.3) ... Joshua Lowery is #10 (tied) in assists (3.0) and #10 in assist/turnover ratio (1.5) ... Taylor Darby is #19 in scoring (11.5).

SEASON NOTABLES -- Several milestones have 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 ... 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 ... Pepperdine was above .500 in December and January for the first time since 2004-05 ... The Waves have beaten Portland in consecutive home games for the first time since 2004 and 2005.

VICTORY INDICATORS -- So far this season, the Waves are more likely to post a win when the final margin is between six and nine points (5-2) ... keeping the opponent to 62 points or less (6-3) ... holding the opponent to less than 40% shooting from the field (7-1) ... outshooting the opponent (7-0) ... making fewer, or equal, turnovers as the opponent (5-2) ... having four or more players score in double-figures (5-1).

INJURIES -- Four Waves are currently sidelined, and at least three of them are out for the season due to injuries. Senior guard Lorne Jackson will 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 has continued to keep him out of practice.

ROTATION -- Pepperdine's primary nine-man rotation has consisted of two seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen (five returners and four 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 12.0 and 10.3 ppg, respectively, they're on pace to be the highest-scoring class for the fourth consecutive year. The seniors are scoring 39.1% of the Waves' points this season.

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 and Dane Suttle Jr.'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 and Suttle, those figures drop to 28.7% of the scoring (657/2,289), 42.4% of the rebounding (442/1,043), 38.2% of the assists (156/408), 33.0% of the blocked shots (32/97), 32.1% of the steals (62/193) and 39.2% of the minutes played (2,608/6,650).

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 (he's still #9). 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 began a new streak of Pepperdine players in an NBA uniform, as he made the Cleveland Cavaliers' opening-day roster as an undrafted free agent. He played in five games (making three starts) and averaged 3.6 points before being waived on Feb. 6. Sadly, a streak of 34 consecutive seasons with at least one Pepperdine alum on an NBA roster ended in 2010-11. The streak began in 1976-77 after the ABA/NBA merger. Thompson was the 17th former Pepperdine player to have played in 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). Prior to Thompson, the most recent NBAers were Yakhouba Diawara and Alex Acker, who went back to Europe last season.

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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