GAME NOTES: After losing the outright lead in the Big West Conference with two straight losses, the UC Irvine Anteaters will try to get back in the win column with a road match against the Cal Poly Mustangs in conference play at Mott Gymnasium.
UC Irvine dropped an overtime bout with Hawaii last Saturday, and suffered another setback against UC Santa Barbara Thursday night, 80-60, in Big West action. Now at 4-2 in the conference, the Anteaters are in a three-way tie with USCB and Long Beach State.
Like UC Irvine, Cal Poly has also suffered back-to-back losses after dropping its contest with UC Davis Thursday night, 62-58. The Mustangs dropped back to 4-3 in the Big West after not taking advantage of an opportunity to gain the conference lead.
UC Irvine has the slim 22-20 all-time series advantage over Cal Poly. These two programs will meet up again later this season on March 1.
UC Irvine fell behind 13-0 to start the game against UC Santa Barbara and never was able to recover in the eventual road loss. Luke Nelson paced the Anteaters with 26 points on 9-of-21 shooting from the floor. Chris McNealy added 10 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes of action. The Anteaters shot just 35.7 percent from the floor in the losing effort.
McNealy and Nelson are the top two scorers for UC Irvine this season, each netting over 12 points on average. McNealy leads the team with 12.1 ppg, while Nelson connects on an average of exactly 12 ppg through 22 games played. Will Davis II, who is questionable to play versus UC Irvine with an undisclosed injury, is the third and final double-digit scorer for the Anteaters this year, netting 11.4 ppg on an impressive 60.6 percent shooting from the field. Alex Young tops the team in assists this year with 98 total, while Davis pulls down a team-leading 6.9 rpg. Young also checks in as the team's leader in steals with 25.
Cal Poly held a six-point lead with 13 minutes left in the game against UC Davis, but the Mustangs weren't able to hold up the advantage as they let the Aggies jump ahead and take the win. Chris Eversley led Cal Poly with 17 points in the contest, adding six rebounds and three steals to his stat line. Dave Nwaba chipped in 14 points and four rebounds in the loss. The Mustangs shot 49 percent from the floor in the game.
Eversley and Nwaba are the only two players for Cal Poly to average double- digit points totals this season. Eversley is the team's top scorer per contest at 13.7 ppg, while Nwaba is close behind at 12.1 ppg on 57.7 percent shooting from the floor. Eversley leads the Mustangs in rebounding at 7 rpg, with Nwaba second in the same category at 4.5 rpg. Jamal Johnson leads the team with 62 assists on the year.
Although Cal Poly has the homecourt advantage, it's hard to see UC Irvine have three straight poor games. The Anteaters haven't lost three straight games all season long, and it likely won't happen this time.
Game Date and Time