Pepperdine (5-4) at UC Irvine (5-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 7, 10 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bren Events Center (4,984) -- Irvine, California. Television: None. Home Record: Pepperdine 2-2, UC Irvine 3-2. Away Record: Pepperdine 2-0, UC Irvine 2-2. Neutral Record: Pepperdine 1-2, UC Irvine 0-0. Conference Record: Pepperdine 0-0, UC Irvine 0-0. Series Record: Pepperdine leads, 11-10.
GAME NOTES: Two teams with matching records will try to settle their differences when the Pepperdine Waves visit the UC Irvine Anteaters for a non- conference showdown at Bren Events Center.
A quick start to the season has dissipated for the Waves, who have fallen in three of their last four games. The most recent setback occurred on Wednesday as the Waves were run off their home floor by Cal State Fullerton, 78-64. Pepperdine has won both of its road games on the campaign as they start this quick two-game swing that finishes against Washington State.
UC Irvine had won back-to-back games before traveling to face California this past Monday. The Anteaters' win streak came to an end in the 73-56 loss. UC Irvine, like Pepperdine, is 5-4 overall on the season with only minor success as a host team (3-2). UC Irvine begins a four-game road trip when it next takes the floor against Eastern Washington.
Pepperdine broke a tie in the all-time series last season when it bested UC Irvine, 72-62. The Waves now lead the series by a count of 11-10.
Despite 24 points from Brendan Lane, Pepperdine was unable to claim a victory against Cal State Fullerton as the Waves fell apart in the second half. During the period the Waves hit only 37 percent of their field goal attempts, while allowing the Titans to net 56.7 percent. The showing turned a five-point halftime lead to a 78-64 loss for Pepperdine.
Failing to shoot the ball well is not something Pepperdine has been dealing with this season as they are putting in 51 percent of their field-goal tries. However, the Waves have struggled with ball control turning the ball over 121 times already this season, which is the most in the West Coast Conference. Lane (16.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.9 bpg) is a productive player in the frontcourt with his ability to score around the rim, as well as protect the paint on defense. Stacy Davis (16 ppg, 6.4 rpg) also puts forth strong work on the interior. Jeremy Major (10.3 ppg, 5.8 apg) is a pass-first guard that can score when need be.
UC Irvine was ice cold in the first half and could never recover during the second frame. The Anteaters hit just 20.6 percent of their field-goal attempts during the opening period of the game, including misses on all seven attempts from beyond the arc. Chris McNealy finished with a team-high 13 points, but on just 6-of-17 shooting.
It was an alarming shooting performance both from McNealy and the team as a whole. UC Irvine is connecting on 48.6 percent of their field-goal tries this season, while scoring 82.2 points per game. Strong ball movement is the key as the Anteaters are fifth in the nation in assists (18.8 pg). McNealy (11.9 ppg) is part of a quarter of scorers the Anteaters rely on. The load is carried rather evenly with Will Davis II (11.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg), Luke Nelson (11.6 ppg) and Alex Young (10.4 ppg, 4.2 apg) all providing similar production in terms of scoring. Davis also serves as the top option on the glass, while being aided in the frontcourt by rim-protector Mamadou Ndiaye (8.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.2 bpg).
Another off night from the floor is unlikely for the Anteaters as they return home on Saturday. Ndiaye should be able to neutralize some of the Waves frontcourt attack and Davis will open up shots on the outside for the Anteaters' superior group of guards.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Irvine 79, Pepperdine 74
12/07 10:38:23 ET