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Davis

Davis, California

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Column: Solid 20 Percent

I, by no means, am a basketball expert.

Sure, I played a little bit in grade school and some pick-up games in high school, but that’s about it. I had an okay shot but couldn’t dribble a ball to save my life.

What I lack in playing ability I make up in journalistic knowledge. I understand sports statistics and what distinguishes a good game from a bad game. In other words, I love sports stats.

Which is why I can’t help but cringe when I look at the box score of the men’s basketball game against Pacific on Saturday.

It was an ugly game to say the least.

The final score was 87-54 in favor of the Tigers. Yes, just one year after beating Pacific in men’s basketball for the first time since World War II, the Aggies lost by 33. Like I said, ugly.

If you look a little bit lower on the box score, you see UC Davis shot just 35 percent for the game and a solid 20 percent in the first half (I hope you know I’m being sarcastic.) The Aggies made just five- yes, five – shots in the opening period.

On the other side of the ball, Pacific shot a very respectable 55 percent from the field, including a scalding 60 percent in the second half.

While shooting percentage seems pretty lopsided in the Tigers favor, it wasn’t even the most one-sided statistic of the game.

Pacific out-rebounded UC Davis 49 to 22. The Tigers had nearly as many offensive rebounds (14) as the Aggies had total boards.

The one bright spot, if you could call it that, was that UC Davis won the turnover battle. The Aggies had seven to the Tigers’ 14.

This loss marked the third straight time the Aggies failed to top 42 percent shooting from the field.

Now you might think I’m putting too much of an emphasis of shooting percentage. There are so many factors that determine this percentage.

Maybe Pacific is really the 2004 Detroit Pistons that consistently forces its opponents to throw bricks? Wrong. In the Tigers’ two most recent Big West Conference games, their opponents shot 50 percent or better.

The probable answers for the Aggies’ abysmal shooting performance Saturday was a combination of poor UC Davis play down low and the outside shooters having a bad day.

It’s general basketball knowledge that the further away one gets from the hoop, the less likely it is that their shot will go in. It’s also no secret that the Aggies lack a legitimate post player. UC Davis’ main big man, freshman Mike Kurtz, feels more comfortable shooting threes than dunking the ball.

The other probable answer is the shooters were having bad days. This was probably the case. However, if a simple off day was the reason for the poor shooting, how does one explain the prior bricks being thrown?

Maybe the Aggies are just a below-average shooting team. I’m inclined to think UC Davis is just on a cold streak. The Aggies are a 44 percent shooting team on the year and these past three games are some combination of unluckiness and strong opposing defenses. This is still no excuse for shooting just 20 percent in the first half.

The real losers of Saturday’s game? The Aggie Pack.

The UC Davis fan base has stuck with this squad through thick and thin this year. Major kudos to those fans for following this team throughout the season.

Obviously coach Gary Stewart was disappointed with his team’s 30-point loss, but he didn’t see the difference between losing by 33 or losing by 1.

“Losing by one is the same designation,” Stewart said. “If you’re on the short end of the scoreboard, you’re on the short end of the scoreboard.”

Stewart’s opinion is somewhat admirable. A loss is a loss and it’s good to think of it that way. This team especially can’t get hung up on a single loss as bad as it may seem. It needs to put the blinders on and focus for its next match-up.

But, isn’t a loss by 33 points at home against a rival in which your team shoots 20 percent in the first half different than, say, a five-point loss to the Academy of Art? Oh, nevermind.

JASON ALPERT can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.

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