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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 15, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Save Mart Center (15,596) -- Fresno, California. Television: None. Home Record: UCI 3-0, FSU 2-2. Away Record: UCI 0-5, FSU 3-3. Neutral Record: UCI 1-1, FSU 0-0. Conference Record: UCI 0-0, FSU 0-0. Series Record: Fresno State leads, 26-9.
GAME NOTES: Still seeking their first true road win of the season, the Anteaters of UC Irvine make the trip to the Save Mart Center to challenge the Fresno State Bulldogs in non-conference action on Saturday night.
Except for a home date versus San Diego Christian on Dec. 4, the Anteaters have now been away from the Bren Center since a Nov. 15 meeting with Pacific (116-47). The team was in action last weekend when it traveled to Ogden, Utah to challenge Weber State and came up short in a 65-51 final. The loss was the fifth in the last six games overall for the program
As for the Bulldogs, who are in the midst of a run that has them playing six of eight games at home, they too are coming off a loss in their most recent outing, a 50-43 setback versus Colorado at home three nights ago. The defeat was the second in a row for an FSU squad that is now 5-5 overall and 2-2 in its own building.
The Bulldogs own a 26-9 advantage in the all-time series between these two schools heading into the meeting this weekend. The teams were once conference mates in both the PCAA and the Big West.
Irvine dug itself a hole against the Wildcats the last time out by making just seven field goals in the first half, eventually converting a mere 34.6 percent from the floor overall. It also didn't help that the squad connected on just 3-of-17 beyond the arc and 12-of-23 at the free-throw line. Daman Starring finished with 15 points, the lone double-digit scorer for the visitors as the other four starters combined to make just 7-of-25 from the field. A starter in eight of the nine games in which he has appeared, Starring is also the only double-digit scorer overall for the program after 10 contests, putting up 13.4 ppg thanks to his 44.4 percent accuracy beyond the arc. The Anteaters have managed to keep things interesting thanks to their defense, as they limit foes to just 36.0 percent shooting and 64.5 ppg.
The Bulldogs held the once nationally-ranked Colorado Buffaloes to just 50 points, forcing the visitors into 18 turnovers, but even that effort was not enough to stem the tide as FSU suffered a seven-point home loss earlier this week. The Bulldogs didn't have a single player score in double figures, with Kevin Foster coming close with his eight points, to go along with eight rebounds, in just 18 minutes off the bench. Tyler Johnson, Allen Huddleston and Jerry Brown all dropped in seven points for a squad that shot a dismal 29.6 percent from the floor, including 4-of-18 behind the three-point line. Huddleston remains the only double-digit scorer for the Bulldogs after 10 games with his 11.7 ppg, but he is shooting just 36.8 percent from the floor which is only slightly better than his 36.5 percent beyond the arc. Most disappointing about this team is how Kevin Olekaibe (7.6 ppg) has fallen off the map after producing 17.8 ppg just last season.
With Olekaibe almost nowhere to be found these days, the Bulldogs are trying to spread out the shot opportunities to a slew of players, but it just isn't working to this point and that could give the Anteaters the chance they need to slip by for the win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Irvine 64, Fresno State 61
12/15 10:31:51 ET
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Jan. 1, 9:00 a.m. (PST)