UC Davis (2-2) vs. Loyola-Chicago (2-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 23, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stott Center (1,500) -- Portland, Oregon. Television: None. Home Record: UCD 1-0, Loyola 2-0. Away Record: UCD 0-2, Loyola 0-3. Neutral Record: UCD 1-0, Loyola 0-0. Conference Record: UCD 0-0, Loyola 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The UC Davis Aggies and the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers do battle on Saturday afternoon at the Stott Center, as the Portland State Tournament continues.
Since dropping its season opener at Portland (100-83), UC Davis has alternated wins and losses on its way to a 2-2 record, with its most recent try falling on the positive side of the ledger as it bested SIU Edwardsville in Friday's opening round, 80-75. Although the Aggies faced a deficit as large as 13 in the first half, they managed to go into intermission down by just two and took control of the contest in the second stanza. The well-rounded performance included very strong percentages from the field (.566) and 3-point range (.643), and a low turnover rate (10), all of which helped mask a lackluster 11-of-20 showing from the foul line. Josh Ritchart led the attack with a career night, a he logged 35 points and 13 rebounds while missing just two of his 14 field goal attempts. Corey Hawkins was also an integral part of the win with 11 points.
Loyola has set a trend through the first couple weeks of the season, as it has played well at home (2-0) while floundering away from Chicago (0-3). The Ramblers drew the host team Portland State in the opening round of the tournament on Friday and coughed up a huge second-half lead to fall, 67-63. They sported a 17-point advantage early in the second stanza but slowly watched the lead dissipate down the stretch before Andre Winston delivered the game-winning bucket for PSU with under two minutes left. Loyola stumbled late despite shooting a lofty 51.1 percent from the field on the night, including 50 percent in the second half. It lost out on several possessions by committing 16 turnovers and losing the rebounding battle, 33-26. Jeff White finished with 17 points, while Christian Thomas and Milton Doyle netted 11 and 10 points, respectively.
These two schools have never before faced each other in men's basketball.
The good news for the Aggies this season is that they have established some decent scoring success with 75.8 points per game, but the bad news comes at the defensive end of the court, where they give up more than 80 points per tilt to the opposition. Ritchart's explosive performance on Friday allowed for a significant leap in his averages (20.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg), and he will be one of the Big West's top performers if he can keep up his lofty shooting (.698). Ryan Sypkens (13.0 ppg) makes his living from beyond the arc (14-of-31), while Hawkins brings 12.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game to the table.
Even though Loyola spots a sub-.500 record at the moment, it is still scoring 2.8 points per game more than its opponents on average, and has impressed in the takeaway battle (+2.0 turnover margin) while shooting greater than 48 percent from the field. In addition to being the team's top scoring threat at 18.5 points per game, Doyle is a great perimeter defender with eight steals. Thomas (14.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg) patrols the paint, while White (13.5 ppg) has been nearly perfect at the free-throw line (20-of-22).
Loyola undoubtedly has some talent to work and is likely better than its 2-3 record suggests, but until it proves it can win away from Chicago the team simply can't be trusted, especially coming off a second-half meltdown on Friday. UC Davis looked impressive in the opening round and should be able to carry that momentum into this clash.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Davis 75, Loyola-Chicago 71
11/23 10:35:21 ET