A lot will be at stake when UC Santa Barbara comes to UC Davis for a Big West Conference men’s basketball game Thursday night.
The Aggies will look to extend their conference home-court winning streak to 13 games, which would tie Santa Barbara for third longest in the Big West since UCD joined the conference in 2007-08.
Santa Barbara is trying to get Woodland native Bob Williams’ his 299th win as Gauchos coach. Williams, 62, is in his 18th season at Santa Barbara and is the dean of Big West coaches. Only Bob Thomason (436 at Pacific) and Jerry Tarkanian (405 at Long Beach State and UNLV) have won more Big West games.
Before moving south, Williams won 158 games at UCD and led the Aggies to the NCAA Division II national title in 1998, his last season in Davis.
Thursday’s game also will mark former Foothill High School star Michael Bryson’s last appearance in Davis for the Gauchos. The 6-foot-4 senior guard is the Big West scoring leader at 19.3 points per game.
The Aggies (10-12, 5-4) are in fourth place in the Big West behind Hawaii (18-3, 7-1), UC Irvine (18-6, 7-1) and Long Beach State (12-12, 6-3). Santa Barbara (10-12, 4-5) is in fifth place, one game behind the Aggies, but has won two of its past three, including a 76-60 upset of UC Irvine on Jan. 30.
On Saturday, UCD won its first Big West road game, beating UC Riverside 50-49 on Brynton Lemar’s last-second 10-foot floater. Senior forward Josh Fox had a game-high 16 points – all in the second half – and Big West rebounding leader Neal Monson grabbed 12 boards as the Aggies won for the fifth time in their past seven games.
The UCD men also got good news Monday when it was announced that their home game against UC Irvine on Feb. 27 will be televised by ESPN2. Tipoff will be at 9 p.m.
Demps to return – Sacramento State senior guard and co-captain Cody Demps is expected to return Thursday night when the Hornets (10-11, 3-7 Big Sky Conference) play at second-place Weber State (16-7, 8-2).
Demps has missed the past nine games because of a quadriceps injury and has played just eight minutes in conference games.
Coach Brian Katz said fans shouldn’t expect Demps to be the ironman performer he was before his injury. Katz plans to play Demps limited minutes through the rest of the regular season to try to avoid aggravating the injury.
Although the Hornets have struggled in Big Sky play without Demps, his absence has given sophomores Marcus Graves and Justin Strings a chance to develop into the team’s go-to offensive leaders.
Demps’ injury also has given sophomore guard Jiday Ugbaja and freshman guard Jeff Wu a chance to play major minutes. Ugbaja (a career-high 18 points) and Wu (11 second-half points) played key roles in the Hornets’ come-from-behind 83-79 upset of Big Sky leader Montana last Thursday.
The 10th-place Hornets have no worries about qualifying for the conference tournament. All 12 men’s teams qualify for the Road to Reno finale March 7-12 at the Reno Events Center. The tournament’s champion advances to the NCAA Tournament.
Raining threes – The Sac State women tied their NCAA Division I record with 25 three-pointers Saturday at Montana State. Junior guard Brianna Burgos scored a career-high 34 points to break the school’s Big Sky record, and her nine three-pointers tied the program record.
The Hornets still fell 116-99 to the Big Sky co-leaders. It was their fourth consecutive loss.
While coach Bunky Harkleroad’s frenetic “The System” is designed to produce explosive offense, it’s been easier lately for Big Sky teams to break down the Hornets defensively.
The Hornets (7-14, 4-6) rank No. 2 nationally in D-I scoring at 87.4 points per game but are second-to-last (343rd) in points allowed at 87.6. The Hornets have allowed an average of 101 points in the last four games and are 2-11 when allowing 80 or more points.