Teams: UC Davis vs. UC Riverside
Records: Aggies, 7-11 (3-3); Highlanders, 8-11 (2-5)
Where: Student Recreation Center – Riverside, Calif.
When: Today at 7 p.m.
Radio: 1690 KSFM
Who to watch: In a game where both teams have go-to players, the play of Mark Payne will be key. The Aggies try to use their high-energy defense and long arms to make turnovers into points. Against Pacific, the Aggies forced just 11 turnovers. Payne, who ranks 11th in all of college hoops in steals per game with 2.7, had none against the Tigers.
Did you know? UC Riverside has the edge on UC Davis in the all-time series, leading 26-23.
Preview: One Highlander merits special consideration from the Aggie defense: Kyle Austin.
“Everything they do runs through Kyle Austin,” said coach Gary Stewart. “We’ve got to pay him special attention.”
Austin is a 6-foot-8 forward for UC Riverside currently averaging 16.9 points per game overall and 19.3 points in conference play. He has attempted 258 of the Highlanders 1,020 shots this season, accounting for 25 percent of the team’s offense.
UC Riverside’s next leading scorer, Larry Gurganious, clocks in at 8.5 points per game. Austin, a USC transfer, was named First-Team All-Big West Conference last season. He finished second in the conference in scoring (16.8 points per game).
While containing Austin is a priority, the Aggies must their own areas of concern as well.
Limiting opponents’ three-point field goal percentage was a problem for the Aggies early in the season. After allowing just one opponent in their past six games to shoot better than 37.5 percent from beyond the arch, the team is now looking to improve in other areas.
“We’re allowing too much penetration and we’ve got to rebound better,” Stewart said.
Both those problems were on display against Pacific. The Tigers had 16 points in the paint in the first half and 30 for the game. They out-rebounded the Aggies 39-24.
This is the second of three consecutive road games for the Aggies. UC Davis has struggled so far on the road this season, holding a 1-7 record outside of the Pavilion.
The Aggies have gone up against the Highlanders four times in the past two years, with the home team winning each time. UC Davis is currently ranked fourth in the conference.
– Richard Procter