Teams: UC Davis vs. UC Santa Barbara; vs. Cal Poly
Records: Aggies 6-8, (1-1); Gauchos 7-5, (0-1); Mustangs, 4-8, (0-1)
Where: The Pavilion
When: Thursday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 7 p.m.
Who to watch: Josh Ritchart is on the rise.
The freshman out of Auburn, Calif. had one of the more impressive performances of the season for UC Davis at UCLA on Dec. 13, when he scored 23 points off the bench.
He came alive in the second half, scoring 16 points, including four triples.
Since the UCLA loss, Ritchart has posted a 17-point game at North Dakota State and a 20-point effort at Cal State Fullerton.
Did you know? The Aggies scored a season high 88 points as a team against the Titans on Dec. 28, shooting 50 percent from the field and tallying 13 threes.
Preview: Coach Gary Stewart has more than one reason to be optimistic.
At 1-1 in Big West Conference play, the Aggies have shown glimpses of brilliance. In mid-December, UC Davis was competitive with UCLA in the narrow 74-67 loss.
The Aggies have also found secondary scoring options to accompany the leadership and skill of seniors Mark Payne and Joe Harden.
Along with Ritchart, junior transfer Eddie Miller has three 20-point games on the young season, proving to be a consistent scoring threat.
Sophomore guard Ryan Sypkens has topped 16 points in UC Davis’ three most recent games. Additionally, Sypkens is the Aggies’ most consistent threat from beyond the arc, shooting 49 percent from three-point range.
“We feel like we’ve built a team where anyone who gets open and squares their shoulders can knock down shots,” Stewart said.
With another steady offensive performance by Ritchart, Miller and Sypkens, the Aggies can make a run in conference – starting with the highly anticipated match-up against Gauchos.
What they’ll need in addition, however, is to shut down the league’s top two scoring leaders – UC Santa Barbara’s James Nunnally and Orlando Johnson.
After the Aggies take on the Gauchos, they’ll return to the Pavilion Saturday night to take on the Cal Poly Mustangs.
The rival Mustangs have struggled as of late, dropping five of their last six.
The Aggies will need steady offensive and defensive performances to come away with a pair of victories this weekend.