UC Irvine (17-14) at UC Davis (14-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 9, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Thunderdome (5,600) -- Santa Barbara, California. Television: None. Home Record: UC Irvine 12-1, UC Davis 6-6. Away Record: UC Irvine 4-12, UC Davis 6-9. Neutral Record: UC Irvine 1-1, UC Davis 2-0. Conference Record: UC Irvine 10-7, UC Davis 9-8. Series Record: UC Irvine leads, 17-12.
GAMES NOTES: In a Big West Conference regular-season finale the UC Irvine Anteaters will take on the UC Davis Aggies at the Thunderdome on Saturday night.
The Anteaters are trying bounce back from a 70-62 loss to Pacific on Thursday that ended a five-game winning streak. If they can secure a win the Anteaters would lock up the No. 4 seed in the upcoming Big West Tournament. On the season UC Irvine is 17-14 overall, while owning a 10-7 mark in league bouts, although it is just 4-12 record on the road.
Although UC Davis would end up in a tie in the league standings with UC Irvine with a win, the Anteaters own the tiebreaker meaning the Aggies can only move to the fifth seed. They currently trail Hawaii, who already closed out the regular season, by a half game for that slot but because they own the tiebreaker against the Rainbow Warriors, they need only a win to secure the fifth seed.
If the first meeting between these teams this season is any indication, Saturday should be a phenomenal finish to the campaign. UC Irvine held UC Davis scoreless in overtime to grab a 69-58 win in that matchup for its fourth-straight victory against the Aggies. The Anteaters also lead the all- time series, 17-12.
On Thursday the Anteaters' rally in the second half was not enough to overcome a poor showing in the first 20 minutes. UC Irvine went into halftime trailing 39-19 after shooting just 26.9 percent from the field while missing on all nine shots from beyond the arc.
In comparison to the rest of the Big West, UC IRvine has been one of the more mediocre offensive teams despite leading the league in assists (16 pg). The Anteaters are putting in 68.9 points per game and shooting at a 43.6 percent clip from the field which are both the sixth best marks in the conference. Balance is the key to the offense with Daman Starring (13.3 pg) the only player on the roster scoring in double figures. Starring had just eight points on 3-of-10 shooting against Pacific breaking a streak of four games in double figures for the 6-foot-3 guard. Adam Folker (9.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Will Davis II (8.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg) are the leading rebounders for UC Irvine which tops the Big West as a team on the glass (39 pg).
UC Davis almost pulled off a major upset against conference leading Long Beach State on Thursday but came just short in a 77-76 setback. The loss ended a three-game winning streak for the Aggies who nearly won the game in a Ryan Howley 3-pointer as time expired but the shot was just off the mark.
Big West leading scorer Corey Hawkins (20.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.3 apg) was sensational yet again on Thursday as he poured in 34 points on 12-of-19 shooting. Hawkins has scored in double figures in all but one game this season and has hit the 30-point plateau five times this season including a career- best 40 points against Hawaii. Hawkins isn't the only talented scorer on the roster though as Ryan Sypkens (14.3 ppg) and J.T. Adenrele (12.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg) can each fill up the tin as well. Led by Hawkins the Aggies are scoring a healthy 71.9 points per game while shooting the best percentage from the field (.477) among Big West teams.
With how well the Aggies can score they are always a dangerous team to face. On their home floor Hawkins and company should have the advantage they didn't have last time these teams faced off to carry the Aggies to a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Davis 76, UC Irvine 72
03/09 10:44:48 ET