Long Island (1-1) at UC Irvine (2-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 22, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bren Events Center (4,984) -- Irvine, California. Television: None. Home Record: LIU 1-0, UCI 1-1. Away Record: LIU 0-1, UCI 1-1. Neutral Record: LIU 0-0, UCI 0-0. Conference Record: LIU 0-0, UCI 0-0. Series Record: UCI leads, 1-0.
GAMES NOTES: Closing out day one of the 2K Sports Classic sub-regional at the Bren Events Center, the UC Irvine Anteaters will play host to the Long Island Blackbirds on Friday night.
The Blackbirds have not been particularly busy in the early season with just two games on the ledger. LIU has had 10 days off since it faced Indiana in Bloomington and fell in a heartbreaking, 73-72, decision. The loss came after the Blackbirds defeated Saint Peter's, 87-80, in the season opener at the Barclays Center. The Blackbirds will be back in action tomorrow against Eastern Washington.
UC Irvine has also split its decisions this year, though it is sitting at 2-2 after four games. The Anteaters have won back-to-back games entering Friday's battle with triumphs at Washington (86-72) and against USCAA foe Pacifica (110-73). UC Irvine will be playing host for this event all weekend and gets to face off with Boston University on Saturday.
In the only previous meeting between these teams the Anteaters pulled out a 67-65 victory during the 1972-73 season.
The Blackbirds led by as many as nine points and never trailed by more than six against Indiana, but in the end came up just short. Troy Joseph scored 16 points to pace the Blackbirds in the game, which featured seven lead changes and nine ties in the second half.
Although the sample size is small, the Blackbirds have been strong offensively in the early going, averaging 79.5 points and assisting on 15.5 field goals per game. LIU is only shooting around 43 percent from the floor and the defensive effort needs to be improved as it is letting up 76.5 points per game on nearly 45 percent shooting. Joseph had been held scoreless in the season opener for the Blackbirds, but his efforts against Indiana showed he could be a valuable asset off the bench. In the two games, E.J. Reed (16.0 ppg) and Gilbert Parga (14.0 ppg) have been the most consistent scorers with each dropping in 15 points against Indiana. Jason Brickman (12.0 ppg, 12.0 apg) already has 24 assists on the season but is shooting at 33.3 percent from the field. Gerrell Martin (13.0 ppg) is also averaging in double figures.
Five players scored in double figures for the Anteaters in their win over Pacifica. As a team, UC Irvine shot 58.6 percent from the field, while recording 41 made field goals. The Anteaters also scored 31 points off of turnovers and assisted on 28 field goals.
High-powered offensive showings have been the norm for the Anteaters. UC Irvine is scoring 93 points per game, while ranking among the top 10 teams in the country in assists (20.8 pg) and field goal percentage (.549). Unfortunately, the defensive end has been a less successful area, with the Anteaters allowing foes to score 81.8 points per game. Will Davis II (14.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg) is connecting on 72.7 percent of his shots to start the year as the team's leading scorer. Davis II scored 13 points in only 11 minutes against Pacifica as he has been in double figures in every game this season. Chris McNealy (12.5 ppg) and Alex Young (12.2 ppg, 4.2 apg) are also reliable scorers, with Young providing a steady force at the point as well. Luke Nelson (10.5 ppg) adds even more scoring depth.
Both of these teams play at a torrid pace offensively so expect a high-scoring affair. In the end the Anteaters' efficiency will carry them over the Blackbirds.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Irvine 83, Long Island 75
11/22 10:35:46 ET