Teams: UC Davis vs. Pacific
Records: Aggies, 6-11 (1-4); Tigers, 10-8 (2-3)
Where: The Pavilion
When: Saturday at 7 p.m.
Who to watch: Last year when UC Davis faced Pacific at home, Ryan Sypkens was only a freshman.
He took just one shot from beyond the arc in the close victory, and made it.
The All-Big West Freshman out of Franklin High in Elk Grove, Calif. was active defensively in that game, forcing four turnovers, while posting one block and a steal.
This year, Sypkens has elevated his offensive game. He leads the Big West Conference in three-point percentage with 46 percent and is second in shots made from beyond the arc with 39.
Did you know? Just under one year ago, the 2009-10 Aggies defeated the Tigers in a 62-59 victory at the Pavilion.
The victory ended Pacific’s 49-game winning streak over UC Davis that started on Feb. 17, 1940.
Preview: After battling first-place Long Beach State last Wednesday night, UC Davis entered a 10-day break from competition.
Just because it’s a break, though, doesn’t mean it’s a vacation for the Aggies.
Coach Gary Stewart and his team is focused on the task at hand – preparing for a home game against rival Pacific on Saturday night.
“We always have the same approach,” Stewart said. “You can’t get ahead of yourself – we have to play the game in front of us.”
The Aggies will certainly have their work cut out for them.
Although the Tigers are in fifth place in the Big West, they remain competitive, thanks in large part to senior forward Sam Willard.
The Aggies could do worse than take note of Willard’s blue-collar approach to the game, as he leads the conference in rebounds per game with 11.8.
Willard also averages 16 points per game, shooting 50 percent from the field.
Coincidentally, Pacific will also be coming off a close loss to Long Beach State, falling to the 49ers 70-69 on Saturday.
In that game, Willard grabbed 13 boards and scored 27 points – 16 more than Pacific’s next scorer, senior Demetrece Young (11).
The Aggies will look to combat Willard’s dominance on both ends of the court with a combination of active play and tenacity.
“We’re a resilient bunch,” Stewart said. “We’ve got some guys that have some toughness and some fight about them.”
– Grace Sprague