GAME NOTES: The best of the Big West Conference plays the worst of the Big West Conference in the regular-season finale for both on Saturday, as the UC Irvine Anteaters welcome the UC Davis Aggies to the Bren Events Center.
UC Irvine has a chance to wrap up the league title outright, while UC Davis is only looking to play spoiler in this one.
UC Davis missed out of a chance to play in the conference tournament when it lost a 78-65 final to UC Riverside on Thursday. Brynton Lemar scored 19 points for UCD, which has lost six of its last seven. Corey Hawkins put up 13 points and Ryan Sypkens, the all-time Big West Conference leader in 3-pointers, netted 10.
Hawkins (18.3 ppg) and Sypkens (11.5 ppg) lead the way offensively for the Aggies, who are also getting 8.6 ppg from freshman forward Georgi Funtarov. Hawkins is the driving force though, ranking second in the conference in scoring and eighth in assists (3.0 apg). Poor defensive play has plagued the Aggies who are allowing teams to shoot 38.3 percent from beyond the arc and are giving up 77.8 ppg.
The Anteaters, meanwhile, have won eight of their last nine games, including a 62-44 drubbing of Cal State Fullerton on Thursday. Will Davis II scored 16 points and Alex Young chipped in with 13 in the rout.
The Anteaters have made a habit of tightening up at the defensive end. They are allowing only 64.9 on one of the best opponent field-goal percentages in the country (.378). They couple their strong defensive effort with a solid showing on the boards (38.4 rpg) and in their own shooting (.475). Luke Nelson (11.9 ppg) is one of three double-digit scorers on the roster, with Chris McNealy (11.4 ppg) and Davis (10.6 ppg) also getting into the mix. Young (9.1 ppg, 4.6 apg) can score, but is more valuable as a passer and Mamadou Ndiaye (8.2 ppg, 6 rpg, 3.1 bpg) leads the league in blocks.
In these teams' first meeting on Feb. 8, Darius Graham missed a 3-point attempt with three seconds left as UC Davis earned a 61-59 victory.
Revenge should come easy for UC Irvine, as the Aggies have just one true road victory of the season and the Anteaters have something special to play for -- the program's second outright league crown and first since 2001.
Game Date and Time