53.1 F

Davis, California

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Men’s Basketball Preview

Teams: UC Davis vs. UC Santa Cruz

Records: Aggies, 1-2; Banana Slugs, 0-0

Where: The Pavilion

When: Tonight at 8 p.m.

Radio: KFSG (1690 AM)

Who to watch: If you walk into the Pavilion tonight and you hear a sizzling sound, that’s just Mark Payne burning up the nets with his hot shooting.

Payne has opened the season on a tear, shooting 70.8 percent from the field on his way to 17.3 points per game.

The Stockton, Calif. native will look to continue his hot start against the Banana Slugs in the Aggies’ home opener.

Did you know? The last time these two teams met was in 2007. Payne had a game-high 14 points and six steals in a UC Davis 71-49 victory.

Preview: After dropping the first two games of the season to Colorado State and Oregon, UC Davis got back on track with a win against Winston-Salem State.

The Aggies will be aiming to bring their record back to .500 when they play host to the Banana Slugs tonight.

Along with Payne will be his partner in crime, Joe Harden, who’s coming off a career-high 26-point performance.

“Joe was sensational [against Winston-Salem State],” said UC Davis head coach Gary Stewart. “He was a man among boys. A couple of times down there we left him alone with three guys to get the rebound, and he did. Offensively, he was aggressive. He took the ball to the basket. He was really assertive with his cuts and made some good decisions.”

Payne and Harden are both averaging 17.3 points per contest so far this year but if the Aggies want to continue their good play they’ll need to get consistent contributions from their bench.

The Aggie reserves scored 21 points against Colorado State and 24 points against Winston-Salem State, but only 10 points in the loss to Oregon.

“We’re awfully young, and it’s showing,” Stewart said. “What I really like is we’re trying to do the right thing, and we had some really good moments when we played very well. That’s part of why I’m very excited about this team. We’re going to get better and better. There’s no question about that. We have a great attitude. The work ethic is good. It’s just going to take a little time for us to mature.”

UC Santa Cruz will be the first regular season opponent to experience the newly renovated Pavilion.

“It’s gorgeous and has a great feel to it,” Stewart said, “but it won’t feel complete until we’re playing in front of a full house.

– Richard Procter


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