Teams: UC Davis at Cal Poly; at UC Santa Barbara
Records: Aggies, 8-12 (3-5); Mustangs, 9-11 (4-4); Gauchos, 11-8 (4-4)
Where: Mott Gym – San Luis Obispo, Calif.; The Thunderdome – Santa Barbara, Calif.
When: Thursday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Who to watch: For a guy so quiet, Ryan Howley made quite a bit of noise off the bench in Saturday’s double overtime victory over UC Irvine.
The redshirt sophomore out of Flagstaff, Ariz. played an integral part in the win, hitting two triples at just the right times.
One shot brought UC Davis to within a bucket with two minutes left in the second half. The other tied the game at 86-86 and forced the first overtime. His play even earned an endorsement from senior Mark Payne.
“The bench looked big the whole game,” Payne said. “Howley played the best game he’s played since [I’ve been] here.”
Did you know? Saturday was the first double overtime game for UC Davis since a 92-88 win over Cal State Northridge in 2007.
It was also the first time the Aggies have scored 100 points since a 105-100 double overtime win at UC San Diego in 2003.
Preview: The Aggies have transformed themselves since they last faced the Gauchos and Mustangs in early January.
To name one difference, seniors Payne and Todd Lowenthal are back from injury.
Coach Gary Stewart said the return of these two have had a huge impact on the team’s recent success.
“Having Lowenthal back is so critical to what we do on both ends of the floor,” Stewart said. “He’s our best perimeter defender and he’s great at the point of attack. He allows Mark to play off the ball some, and that’s critical because we can extend [Payne’s] minutes.”
In addition to better health in the starting lineup, the Aggies have relinquished their loyalty to the Princeton offense. They have instead adopted a motion offense that exhibits more pick-and-rolls, movement and overall athleticism.
Because of the new style, UC Davis men’s basketball is now showing some character.
“We needed to get up and down the floor more in transition, and really get things moving,” said junior guard Eddie Miller. “We’ve been able to do that in the last two games. It seems like we’ve come into our own identity, not playing the way other teams are.”
Saturday’s game will be televised on Prime Ticket. It will also be broadcasted on KFSG 1690 AM with Scott Marsh and Bill Herenda on the call.
– Grace Sprague