It will be another historic week for the nationally ranked UC Davis and Sacramento State men’s basketball teams.
The CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major No. 18 Aggies and No. 20 Hornets lead their respective conferences and will play home games Thursday and Saturday.
Big West Conference tri-leader UCD (14-4, 4-1) faces UC Santa Barbara (10-9, 3-2) Thursday and defending conference tournament champion Cal Poly (10-8, 3-3) on Saturday, a game that will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
Sac State (13-6, 7-1), which sits alone atop the Big Sky Conference standings after winning four games in a row and eight of nine, will play last-place Montana State (4-15, 1-6) on Thursday and second-place Montana (10-8, 6-1) on Saturday.
UCD is 8-0 at home this season and seeks to hit the 15-win mark for the first time since moving to Division I in 2004. The Aggies also look to beat UC Santa Barbara for the first time since 2009 and for only the second time in the past 13 meetings.
UC Santa Barbara is coached by Bob Williams, who led UCD to a D-II national championship in 1998. The Gauchos have the reigning Big West Player of the Year in 6-foot-8, 265-pound post Alan Williams, but he isn’t expected to play against the Aggies after suffering a right shoulder injury Jan. 20.
Saturday’s game against Cal Poly will be the Aggies’ second ESPNU telecast of the season and comes three weeks after they rallied to beat Long Beach State in overtime in front of a national television audience and more than 5,000 fans at the Pavilion.
While Cal Poly was last year’s shocking Big West tournament champion and NCAA Tournament qualifier after finishing tied for sixth during the regular season, it lost both its Big West meetings to the injury-depleted Aggies.
UCD continues to lead the NCAA in three-point percentage at .448 and is fourth in field-goal percentage at .502. Senior guard Corey Hawkins is the national three-point percentage leader at .510 (52 for 102) and his Big West scoring lead of 20.8 points per game is seventh nationally.
Coming off a rare road sweep last weekend, Sac State leads Eastern Washington and Montana by half a game in the Big Sky.
Sac State’s 13-6 record matches the program’s best mark after 19 games in the D-I era (1991-present). The Hornets’ 7-1 conference record is the best this deep into the season since joining the Big Sky in 1996-97. Sac State is 8-1 at home, including 4-0 in conference.
The Hornets are 12-2 against Big Sky teams dating to last season. One of those wins came against Montana State 84-59, lifting the Hornets into the Big Sky tournament for the first time since 2006 as the seventh and final seed.
One of those two losses at the Nest was a 70-55 blowout by Montana, a team that has dominated Sac State through the years. The Grizzlies have won the past 15 meetings and are 36-5 all-time against the Hornets.
But Sac State has ended several dubious records of futility this season, including last Saturday when it beat Weber State 78-71 behind Mikh McKinney, who was named the Big Sky Player of the Week (along with Eastern Washington’s Tyler Harvey) for the second consecutive week and the third time this season. He averaged 28.5 points, six assists and made just one turnover in 79 minutes against Weber State and Idaho State.
Senior guard Dylan Garrity enters Thursday’s game with 499 career assists, needing two to tie DaShawn Freeman for the school record.
Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.
UPCOMING BASKETBALL GAMES
Men: Thursday vs. Montana State, 7:05 p.m., 1380; Saturday vs. Montana, 7:05 p.m., 1380
Women: Thursday at Montana State, 6 p.m.; Saturday at Montana, 1 p.m.
Men: Thursday vs. UC Santa Barbara, 7 p.m., 105.5; Saturday vs. Cal Poly, 7 p.m., ESPNU, 105.5
Women: Thursday at Cal Poly, 7 p.m., 90.3; Saturday at UC Santa Barbara, 2 p.m., 90.3