UC Irvine (9-15) at Cal Poly (14-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 11th, 10:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mott Gym (3,032) -- San Luis Obispo, California. Television: None. Home Record: UCI 6-5, Cal Poly 7-4. Away Record: UCI 3-8, Cal Poly 5-7. Neutral Record: UCI 0-2, Cal Poly 2-0. Conference Record: 5-6, Cal Poly 4-6. Series Record: UC Irvine leads, 20-14.
GAME NOTES: Two teams sitting at 5-6 in the Big West Conference try to take a step closer to the league leaders, as the UC Irvine Anteaters have come to San Luis Obispo to challenge the Cal Poly Mustangs.
UC Irvine can best be described this year as streaky. Though the Anteaters have won back-to-back games or more four times, they have also had three losing streaks of three or more. They are currently on a two-game slide after falling to Cal State Fullerton in shootout fashion on Thursday, 100-94.
Cal Poly is enjoying a winning season overall at 14-11, but has stumbled through much of the Big West schedule en route to its sub-.500 league ledger. The Mustangs had lost three of their previous four bouts, but got back on track on Thursday by staving off a late comeback by UC Riverside and hanging on for a 54-52 victory.
UC Irvine leads the all-time series with Cal Poly, 20-14, but the Mustangs have won two straight, including the first meeting this season in a 66-50 final roughly a month ago.
UC Irvine put forth one of its best offensive performances of the season on Thursday, shooting 54.1 percent from the floor, 45 percent from behind the three-point line, and 86.4 percent from the foul line in lighting up the scoreboard for 94 points. The defense let the Anteaters down by allowing a nine-point, second-half lead to disappear as Fullerton connected on 53.6 percent of its field goal attempts and scored 100 points. Daman Starring paced Irvine with 22 points and Will Davis II went for 20 points for the second time in his career. Starring leads the Anteaters in scoring on the season (12 ppg) and nearly has a greater three-point field percentage (.386) than overall field goal percentage (.389). Michael Wilder contributes 11.5 ppg and drains 2.5 treys per tilt, third-best in the Big West. Davis II adds 8.5 ppg and a team-leading 5.7 rpg to the mix. UC Irvine's game plan usually revolves around the three-pointer as it is second in the conference in long-range buckets with 178.
Much of Cal Poly's success this year can be attributed to its lock-down defense, which allows a league-low 59 ppg. The stout defensive effort continued in Thursday's win, as the Mustangs held UC Riverside to 52 points on 42 percent field goal efficiency while forcing 14 turnovers, which was enough to make up for a terrible 36.2 percent shooting night themselves. Chris Eversley notched his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 14 rebounds and though he averages just 6.7 ppg and 4.6 rpg on the season, he has upped those averages to 11 ppg and 8.3 rpg in the four games since he's been a starter. David Hanson (11.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Will Taylor (10.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg) pace the modest offense, while Amaurys Fermin adds 9.9 ppg and 3.5 apg to the equation. Though Cal Poly possesses a solid rebounding margin (+6.5), it ranks last in the conference in blocked shots (1.7 bpg).
Cal Poly has been impressive in front of the home crowd this season, and should be able to use its top-ranked defense to cool off UC Irvine's hot shooting.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal Poly 73, UC Irvine 65
02/11 10:44:10 ET