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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 24, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bren Events Center (5,000) -- Irvine, California. Television: None. Home Record: Eastern Washington 2-0, UC Irvine 2-2. Away Record: Eastern Washington 0-1, UC Irvine 1-1. Neutral Record: Eastern Washington 2-0, UC Irvine 0-0. Conference Record: Eastern Washington 0-0, UC Irvine 0-0. Series Record: UC Irvine leads, 4-3.
GAMES NOTES: In the final matchup of the 2K Sports Classic subregional at the Bren Events Center the host UC Irvine Anteaters will square off with the Eastern Washington Eagles.
The year has gotten off to a very good start for the Eagles. Eastern Washington has won both of its contests in the first two days of the Classic, with triumphs over Boston University (8068) and Long Island (102-70). Those two wins have extended the Eagles to a three-game winning streak and to a 4-1 overall record.
The results of UC Irvine's first two games in the event have been uneven. The Anteaters easily took down Long Island, 84-64, on Friday night but were disappointed, 74-68, by Boston University on Saturday. The loss to the Terriers ended a three-game winning streak for UC Irvine, which has just as many wins as losses through six games.
These teams met in mid-February during the 2011-12 season and UC Irvine survived for a 78-73 victory, also at Bren Events Center. The win broke a tie in the all-time series, which the Anteaters now lead by a 4-3 margin.
Six different players scored in double figures for Eastern Washington in its win over Long Island. Leading the way were Venky Jois and Parker Kelly, who each scored 17 points. The Eagles hit 63.9 percent from the floor in the contest, including an 11-of-17 showing from beyond the arc.
Through five games the Eagles are outscoring their opponents by nearly 20 points per game. Eastern Washington is netting 86.2 points per game, while shooting at a 53.4 percent rate from the field. The Eagles have been scoring so well thanks to a balanced attack that features five players averaging in double figures. Harvey (18.2 ppg) has been the most productive, especially from beyond the arc as he is netting four 3-pointers per contest. Jois (16.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg) can score down low and rebounds well, although Drew Brandon (11.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 7.2 apg) is leading the team on the glass while contributing in a variety of other areas as well. Parker Kelly (11.4 ppg) and Martin Seiferth (10.6 ppg) will also be relied on to score.
The Anteaters just couldn't keep up with the Terriers' hot shooting from beyond the arc on Saturday. The Anteaters hit just 4-of-13 shots from 3-point range, while giving up 10 triples on the other end. The lack of punch from the perimeter overshadowed the Anteaters, 36-29 rebounding edge.
Scoring only 68 points was quite downturn for the normally potent Anteaters. UC Irvine is netting 87.3 points per game on the young season on 52.8 percent of its field goal tries. Balance is the key for UC Irvine, which has only two players scoring in double figures, but eight putting in at least five points per game. Will Davis II (13.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg) stands in as the go-to scoring option as well as the most effective player on the glass. Davis II had 12 points and eight rebounds against BU. Chris McNealy (12.5 ppg) is the other double figure scorer while Luke Nelson (9.8 ppg) Mamadou Ndiaye (9.8 ppg) and Alex Young (9.7 ppg) are all capable contributors.
Eastern Washington has proven to be the superior team in this tournament and on Sunday the Eagles will get a final chance to prove it.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Washington 75, UC Irvine 70
11/24 10:32:50 ET
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