Men's Basketball Readies for WCC Tournament Game vs. San Diego

Marty Wilson

Feb. 28, 2012

MALIBU, Calif. -- The postseason has arrived and the 2012 West Coast Conference Basketball Championships begins on Thursday night for the Pepperdine men's basketball team. The seventh-seeded Waves will open up against sixth-seeded San Diego in the second round. This is the sixth time in the last eight years that these schools have met in the tournament.

GAME #29 -- Thursday (March 1) at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.: #7-seed Pepperdine (10-18, 4-12) vs. #6-seed San Diego (12-17, 7-9) at approximately 8 p.m. in the second round. The game will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the night's first contest, which tips at 6 p.m.

GAME #30 -- If the Waves win their first game ... Friday (March 2) at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.: Pepperdine vs. #3-seed Brigham Young (24-7, 12-4) at 8 p.m. in the quarterfinals.

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, including the WCC Tournament. Finally, follow the program on Twitter at @PEPPBasketball.

TELEVISION -- The Pepperdine-San Diego second-round game will be televised by BYUtv. The quarterfinals will be on ESPNU, the semifinals will be on ESPN2 and the championship will be on ESPN.

WCC TOURNAMENT HISTORY -- In 25 previous events, Pepperdine has an all-time record of 28-21 (.571) at the WCC Tournament and won titles in the 1991, 1992 and 1994 seasons (all under former coach Tom Asbury). The Waves have won at least one game at 18 of the tournaments, including three of the last four. Pepperdine has been the #7 seed on three previous occasions (and reached the championship game in 1987 after beating the top two seeds).



ALL-CONFERENCE -- Corbin Moore capped off his season as one of the league's most improved players by being named to the All-WCC honorable mention team, as voted on by the coaches. Moore was also named to the all-conference second team by the blog College Sports Madness.

ACADEMICS -- Taylor Darby was named a CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-District first team selection in early February. Then, both he and Corbin Moore became three-time WCC All-Academic first team selections this week (the fourth and fifth three-time honorees in Pepperdine history).

HALL OF HONOR -- Pepperdine and the WCC announced earlier this season that Dana Jones will be the school's inductee into the conference's Hall of Honor. The ceremony takes place on Saturday (March 3) at 9 a.m. in the Orleans Hotel. 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). Previous Pepperdine inductees are Doug Christie, Gail Hopkins and Wayne Wright.

SAN DIEGO -- Pepperdine leads the all-time series with San Diego, 56-36. The Waves won all three meetings last year, including a first-round matchup at the WCC Tournament. Pepperdine's now trying to avoid losing three times to San Diego this season (something that also happened in 2007 and 2008). The Waves are 4-5 against the Toreros in the WCC Tournament. Last season, Pepperdine earned an 84-81 win in the first round (available players on this year's team scored only 22 of the 84 points). Prior to that, San Diego ended the Waves' season in four consecutive years from 2005-08. The Waves beat the Toreros in the 1994 championship game. Marty Wilson was an assistant coach at San Diego for two seasons (1996-97 and 1997-98).

FIRST GAME VS. SAN DIEGO -- Back on Jan. 26 at the Jenny Craig Pavilion ... Pepperdine tried to climb out of a big halftime deficit, but fell short in a 65-56 defeat at San Diego. Pepperdine fell behind 37-21 at halftime, but quickly made it a seven-point game at 42-35 with 14 1/2 minutes to play. Though the Waves wouldn't get any closer, the Toreros were unable to put the game away until the end. Taylor Darby scored 15 points, Joshua Lowery had 12 and Jordan Baker added 11.

SECOND GAME VS. SAN DIEGO -- Back on Feb. 9 in Firestone Fieldhouse ... Corbin Moore posted another double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds but Pepperdine couldn't get much going in a 70-57 home loss to San Diego. Joshua Lowery added 10 points and five assists. The Waves scored eight straight points to take their only lead at 8-4, but the Toreros then went on a 9-0 run of their own. USD led 34-26 at halftime, and after Pepperdine scored the first four points of the second half to make it a four-point game, San Diego went on a 10-1 run. On the plus side, the Waves committed a season-low eight turnovers and tied its season high with 19 assists.

BRIGHAM YOUNG -- BYU leads the all-time series, 6-4, after winning the first two WCC matchups ever this season. Pepperdine won four of the first five meetings (the first game was in the 1944-45 season, the Waves' last win came in January 2002 at home). The Cougars have won the last five contests. Pepperdine has beaten BYU in the two previous neutral-site matchups.

FIRST GAME VS. BYU -- Back on Jan. 21 in Firestone Fieldhouse ... Taylor Darby scored a career-high 21 points and the Waves gave another good effort, but visiting BYU won 77-64. Pepperdine got off to a terrific start in front of the largest crowd of the season, running out to an 11-2 lead. The Cougars would go ahead 42-29 at halftime, though Pepperdine would pull within four points a couple of times, last with 9:39 to go. The Cougars had a huge edge at the foul line, going 29-for-38 to the Waves' 8-for-12.

SECOND GAME VS. BYU -- Back on Feb. 11 at the Marriott Center ... Pepperdine's first WCC trip to Provo, Utah, was a forgettable one as BYU rediscovered its three-point stroke and handed the Waves an 86-48 loss. The Cougars had made just 12 three pointers in their previous five WCC games, but connected on 12 against the Waves and became the first team to score 80 points against Pepperdine this season. The Waves were outshot, 41.5% to 33.3%. Taylor Darby and Ramon Eaton scored eight points apiece.

DEFENSE -- Marty Wilson preaches defense to his squad, and his players have responded. The Waves are allowing 65.5 points per game, which would be the program's fifth-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 were gone after last season (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, 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 59.5). 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 (12.2 ppg) and Corbin Moore (10.2), the Waves' two players averaging in double-figures. Seven different players have led Pepperdine in scoring, with no one doing it more than 11 times.

PARTICIPATION MARKS -- In the first game of the WCC Tournament, Taylor Darby and Corbin Moore will both play in their 125th career games, a figure that will rank them second all-time at Pepperdine (Mychel Thompson set the record last year with 128) ... 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. He's now made 110 starts, which ranks seventh.

PLAYER NOTABLES -- Taylor Darby, the team's leading scorer at 12.2 ppg, enters the WCC Tournament with 982 career points, needing just 18 to become Pepperdine's 37th 1,000-point scorer ... The 53 points that Darby has scored over the last three games (17.7 ppg) is the best three-game stretch of his career ... 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 10.2 points and 8.5 rebounds this season ... Moore pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds at Saint Mary's (Jan. 19), the most boards by any Wave since 2008 ... Moore's seven double-doubles 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 22 more three-pointers since then (including seven in the last three games) ... Moore (29) and Darby (23) both set personal bests for blocked shots midway through the season ... Jordan Baker scored in double-figures in 10 of 16 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 (106) 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 #12 in scoring (12.2) and #11 in rebounding (6.0) ... Corbin Moore is #3 in rebounding (8.5) and #5 in blocked shots (1.0) ... Caleb Willis is #4 in assist/turnover ratio (2.0) and #5 in assists (3.8) ... Joshua Lowery is #6 in minutes played (31.9), #7 in assist/turnover ratio (1.6) and #9 in assists (3.0) ... Jordan Baker is #9 in steals (1.2) ... As a team, Pepperdine is #1 in offensive rebounds (12.1) and #3 in scoring defense (65.5).

WCC STATS (CONFERENCE ONLY) -- Individually, Taylor Darby was #16 in scoring (11.8) ... Jordan Baker was #19 (tied) in scoring (11.3), #7 in minutes played (32.0), #9 (tied) in steals (1.4) and #10 in assists (3.0) ... Corbin Moore was #3 in rebounding (8.6) ... Caleb Willis was #6 in assist/turnover ratio (1.7) and #7 in assists (3.3).

SECOND HALVES -- One thing that's been clear over the last two months is that even after falling behind, Pepperdine hasn't given up. In the last two games (vs. Portland and at Santa Clara), the Waves trailed by one point at halftime and won the game in the second half. 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.

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 ... Pepperdine swept the regular-season series from Santa Clara for the first time since 2002.

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 (6-2) ... keeping the opponent to 62 points or less (7-3) ... holding the opponent to less than 40% shooting from the field (8-1) ... outshooting the opponent (8-0) ... making fewer, or equal, turnovers as the opponent (5-2) ... having four or more players score in double-figures (5-1) ... shooting better than 70% at the free throw line (7-4).

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 action.

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 12.2 and 10.2 ppg, respectively, they're on pace to be the highest-scoring class for the fourth consecutive year. The seniors are scoring 39.0% of the Waves' points this season.

ROSTER -- Four starters and 10 letterwinners came back from the 2010-11 season, and they were 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.

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.

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.

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?

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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