Teams: UC Davis vs. Sacramento State
Records: Aggies, 3-3; Hornets, 3-4
Where: The Pavilion
When: Tonight at 7 p.m.
Radio: KFSG 1690 AM
Who to watch: The Hornets’ defense is designed to keep opposing teams on the perimeter and discourage penetration.
If Aggies are unable to drive the ball successfully, their outside shooting will become that much more important.
This means added pressure for Dominic Calegari, who is shooting a sizzling 52 percent from three-point range this season.
As a team, the Aggies are shooting only 33 percent from beyond the arc.
Did you know? Last year, UC Davis was fourth in the nation in free throw percentage (78 percent). So far this season, the Aggies are shooting 60 percent from the charity stripe. This may be of significance if the Aggies get into another close battle like they have in the past two games.
Preview: UC Davis is coming off its two closest games of the season thus far.
The Aggies fell to North Dakota State by one point on Nov. 24 and beat Ball State by two on Saturday.
They were able to pull out the victory in Muncie, Ind. in part due a stifling defense that has forced at least 16 turnovers in five consecutive games. Coach Gary Stewart credited the unit as a major factory in the latest win.
“We played better defensively for longer periods of time,” Stewart said. “We did a good job of forcing them into contested shots.”
This may be an understatement. The Cardinals did not make a field goal for the final 8:19 of the game, made only six field goals in the entire second half and shot 37 percent for the game.
The improvements on defense can also be attributed to the players becoming more familiar with the high energy 1-3-1 zone, Stewart said.
“It’s about getting a better understanding of the defense,” Stewart said. “As we mature in the defense we learn to trust our rotations. [Against Ball State] was the first time we were able to make adjustments on the floor without having to call timeouts.”
Continued strong defensive play will be key against the Hornets. Although the Aggies are averaging almost ten points more per game (74.3) than the Hornets (64.7), it will be hard to reach that total if Sacramento State gets ahead early.
“If they get a lead,” Stewart said, “they’ll just hold the ball, penetrate and then dump to the guys in the corner. The more pressure that you apply, the more they’ll attack you and pass to the guys in the corners. They can really shorten the game that way.”
– Richard Procter