GAME NOTES: Both the Pacific Tigers and the UC Irvine Anteaters will attempt to extend their winning streaks to three games on Wednesday night, as the two teams meet at the Bren Events Center for a Big West Conference bout.
Following an 80-71 win over Hawaii last Saturday, Pacific won its second straight game to improve to 15-10 overall and continue as one of the Big West's top squads with a 9-4 league ledger. Despite their stellar season however, the Tigers have not had much success away from home (2-7).
This marks the finale of a three-game homestand for UC Irvine, which defeated UC Riverside on Feb. 13 (52-48) and Cal State Fullerton last Saturday (86-66) to improve to 10-1 at the Bren Events Center this season. The Anteaters' success at home has catapulted them over .500 overall (14-13) and to 8-6 in conference action.
With regard to the all-time series, Pacific holds a 40-36 advantage over UCI. The teams split a pair of games last season, with each winning on the road.
Pacific found itself trailing by three points to Hawaii at intermission in its latest tilt, but used a stellar shooting effort, both from the field (.545) and the foul line (20-of-25), in the second half to capture the nine-point win. Travis Fulton tied a career-high with 25 points, doing so on a red-hot 10-of-15 showing from the field. Lorenzo McCloud stuffed the stat sheet with 20 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, while Sam Taku chipped in 13 points on a perfect night from the foul line (10-of-10). The Tigers are one of the most well-rounded teams in the Big West, scoring 68.4 ppg while yielding 64.5 ppg. McCloud runs the point with efficiency, netting 11.5 ppg on nearly 46 percent shooting while dishing out four assists per contest. Although no one else averages double figures, seven others net at least 4.8 ppg, with Fulton (9.1 ppg) and Taku (8.7 ppg) being two of the more consistent role players.
UCI shot 51.5 percent from the field in its latest outing, including 11-of-25 from 3-point range, en route to one of its most lopsided victories of the season. Daman Starring was on fire from beyond the arc, draining a career-high seven long-range buckets on nine attempts for 21 points. Adam Folker was nearly flawless from the field (9-of-10) on his way to 18 points, Alex Young had 16 points and seven assists, while Will Davis II finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. The Anteaters possess eerily similar numbers to that of Pacific, as they score an impressive 68.7 ppg while surrendering just 64.2 ppg. Starring leads the way with 13.5 ppg, and he is one of the Big West's best 3-point shooters (58-of-131, .443). Joining Starring in the backcourt are Young (9.3 ppg, 4.2 apg) and Chris McNealy (9.2 ppg), while Folker (9.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg), Michael Wilder (7.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Davis II (7.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.3 bpg) round out a balanced lineup.
From their records, to the personnel, to their style of play, these two teams match up very well with one another, meaning the determining factor will more than likely be the home court advantage, something UCI has done very well with this season.