UC Davis (4-7) at UC Irvine (6-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 29, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bren Events Center (5,000) -- Irvine, California. Television: None. Home Record: UC Davis 1-2, UCI 3-1. Away Record: UC Davis 1-5, UCI 2-5. Neutral Record: UC Davis 2-0, UCI 1-1. Conference Record: UC Davis 0-0, UCI 0-0. Series Record: UC Irvine leads, 16-12.
GAME NOTES: The Big West Conference schedule gets off the ground on Saturday night, as the UC Irvine Anteaters welcome the UC Davis Aggies to the Bren Events Center.
UCI, which nearly upset UCLA in the second game of the season, has alternated wins and losses over the last six outings and is now just 6-7 overall as a result. The team's most recent outing took place nine days ago at USC where it stunned the Trojans in a 61-54 final.
As for the Aggies, they began the campaign with just a single win in seven opportunities, but the team has shown signs of life recently with three victories in the last four outings. Taking part in the World Vision Challenge at Utah State, UC Davis captured two wins in three chances during the event, the most recent of those coming against Nicholls State, 82-71, at the Dee Glen Smith Center last Saturday.
The Anteaters own a 16-12 edge in the all-time series, thanks in part to a 68-61 win in the most recent meeting last season. The teams are set to meet once again during the second week of March, just prior to the start of the conference tournament.
Leading four players in double figures, Ryan Sypkens dropped in 28 points, shooting 6-of-11 behind the 3-point line, the team finishing 10-of-23 on the perimeter in the win over Nicholls State. Corey Hawkins filled out his stat line with 19 points, six boards and five assists, followed by Josh Ritchart and Ryan Howley with 10 points apiece, the latter also clearing a team-best 11 rebounds in the triumph. Despite shooting just 38.6 percent from the field and 24.5 percent out on the perimeter through 11 games, Hawkins is still the leading scorer for the Aggies with his 17.5 ppg, followed by Sypkens (16.2 ppg) who has picked up the slack from 3-point range with a staggering 47-of-90 (.522) accuracy which means he's made more than half the unit's 90 triples heading into the weekend.
Irvine built a double-digit lead against USC in the first half of their meeting nine days ago at the Galen Center and, even though the Anteaters had trouble putting up points in the second half, still had enough left in the tank to take out the Trojans. Daman Starring scored a game-high 23 points for the visitors, hitting all but one of his six 3-point tries, while Adam Folker contributed another 12 points and handed out five assists as the pair picked up the slack left by Michael Wilder and Alex Young who combined to shoot only 5-of-18 from the floor. The lone double-digit scorer for the Anteaters after 13 games is Starring who is putting up 13.3 ppg, thanks in large part to his 47.9 percent shooting beyond the arc at the moment. Even though UCI doesn't bring a lot of offense to most games, the team has been huge at the other end of the floor where they've held opponents to just 35.6 percent shooting from the field and 28.2 percent on the outside.
Giving up close to 75 ppg, the Aggies don't give themselves much of an opportunity to compete for a full 40 minutes on a regular basis. Unfortunately, this is another case in which UC Davis will probably be overmatched and suffer yet another setback.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Irvine 66, UC Davis 57
12/29 10:43:23 ET