Teams: UC Davis vs. UC Irvine
Records: Aggies, 6-10 (2-2); Anteaters, 8-8 (2-2)
Where: The Pavilion
When: Tonight at 7 p.m.
Who to watch: Different Aggies have stepped up their game all season.
Dominic Calegari, Mark Payne and Ryan Silva have all had career games.
Lately, it’s been Julian Welch’s turn.
The freshman from Sacramento, Calif. has led the team in scoring the past two games, including a 25-point, four-rebound, five-assist effort against Cal Poly. Both contests ended in losses for UC Davis, but coach Gary Stewart has been impressed with Welch’s contributions nonetheless.
“Julian was terrific,” Stewart said. “He shared the ball, was aggressive and put it in the interior. That’s kind of what we saw in him when we recruited him. We expect those type of nights.”
Welch, who averaged 25 points per game as a senior in high school, is averaging 8.2 points per game for UC Davis. He is shooting 43 percent from the field and 45 percent from beyond the arc.
Did you know? The Aggies have averaged 81.3 points per game in their six victories this season as opposed to 63.3 points per game in 10 losses. The Aggies have won four games by a margin of at least 12 points.
Preview: The Aggies hope tonight’s result is the same as their three contests against the Anteaters last season.
UC Davis went 3-0 against UC Irvine last season, including a last-second, come-from-behind win in the first round of the Big West Conference Tournament.
If the Aggies want a victory tonight, they’ll have to get it while short-handed.
Payne, their leading scorer, is listed as day-to-day and could miss his third consecutive game while Silva is out with a wrist injury. The lack of available players has caused those who are healthy to play more minutes than Stewart would like.
“I think we’re getting worn down a bit,” Stewart said. “It’s been problematic for us.”
The Aggies held UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly to 26 and 28 points in the first half, respectively, but allowed 42 and 44 in the second half.
The Anteaters are led by Eric Wise and Michael Hunter, who are averaging 16.1 and 15 points per game. Hunter’s career high in points, 22, came against UC Davis last year.
Tonight is Blackout Night at the Pavilion, meaning fans are encouraged to wear black or Aggie blue. The home court advantage could factor into the result. The Anteaters are 2-5 on the road this season while the Aggies are 2-0 at the Pavilion in conference play.
– Richard Procter