The top two teams in Big West Conference men’s basketball will clash Saturday at 5 p.m. as UC Davis hosts UC Irvine in what should be a defensive battle.
UC Irvine (13-10, 6-1)leads the Big West, but second-place UCD (12-8, 4-1) has the home-court advantage. At 5-0, UCD is the only Big West team undefeated at home this season.
The Aggies pace the Big West in defense at 62.0 points per game in conference play , and UC Irvine is No. 2 at 64.6.
“It’s going to be a defensive slugfest,” said UCD coach Jim Les, “and that’s what it takes to win a championship.”
Never miss a local story.
Winners of six of their last seven games, the Aggies also figure to be well rested.
Saturday’s matchup will mark UCD’s third game in three weeks after having played their first three conference games in nine days. UCD beat Hawaii 76-70 last Saturday to finish a 2-1 road stretch. One week earlier, the Aggies edged host Cal State Northridge 71-68.
Les said the week between games will give a few of his “banged-up” players a chance to recover, and the team runs as many game simulations as possible in practice in to stay fresh.
UCD’s savvy defense will face its toughest test yet. UC Irvine is averaging 80.0 points per game, second in the Big West through seven conference games, and shooting a league-leading 51.1 percent.
Forward Chima Moneke scored a career-high 26 points and pulled in 13 rebounds last week at Hawaii. With 11 games left on UCD’s schedule, Moneke’s eight double-doubles this season are already the most in program history.
The team tries to fit in a bit of recreation after games in Hawaii, Les said. He preaches good sleep and dietary habits for his players to combat jet lag following the trip.
“We’re in a good rhythm at both ends of the court, but your fate can change unless you stay on top of things, both physically and mentally,” Les said.
Before the men’s game, the Aggies women will host Cal State Fullerton at 2:30 p.m. in the second of four scheduled doubleheaders this season.
The Aggies men will play at Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara on Thursday and Feb. 4, respectively, at 7 p.m.
UCD women – The Aggies (14-6, 5-2) also are second in the Big West, trailing Long Beach State (14-7, 5-1). UCD’s eight home wins lead the conference. After Saturday’s doubleheader, they’ll also play at Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara – Thursday at 5 p.m. Thursday and Feb. 4 at 2 p.m., respectively.
Sacramento State – The Hornets men (6-12, 3-4 Big Sky) split two home games last week, losing 74-65 to Montana State before handling Montana 92-83. Nick Hornsby’s 25 points against Montana helped the Hornets mount their biggest scoring outburst of the season.
Sacramento State will host Portland State on Saturday at 7:05 p.m.
The Sac State women (7-11, 3-4) will travel to Portland State for a noon tipoff Saturday. The Hornets, who have won three of their last four, are 2-5 on the road this season.