84.8 F

Davis, California

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Men’s Basketball Preview

Teams: UC Davis vs. Cal State Northridge; Cal State Fullerton

Records: Aggies, 3-11 (9-19); Matadors, 8-6 (12-16); Titans, 5-9, (9-19)

Where: The Pavilion

When: Thursday at 7 p.m.; Saturday at 7 p.m.

Who to watch: Tyler Les has the basketball IQ of a coach’s son.

The freshman guard out of Peoria, Ill. was efficient in Saturday night’s game at UC Riverside, scoring nine points in just eight minutes off the bench for the Aggies.

Les, the son of Bradley University men’s basketball coach and former NBA player Jim Les, leads the Aggies in shooting percentage from beyond the arc with 50 percent.

Did you know? Six of the eight teams heading to the Big West Conference Tournament have already clinched a spot in the postseason.

The Aggies can still finish as high as seventh place in conference play and earn a trip to Anaheim for the postseason tournament. To do so, UC Davis must win both of its remaining games and have Cal State Fullerton lose its next two.

Preview: This weekend is huge.

If the Aggies want to make the Big West Tournament, they will need to find a way into the top eight teams in the conference.

While UC Davis fights to stay alive for postseason play, this weekend will also mark the last home stand of an important era in program history.

Along with saying goodbye to senior guards Todd Lowenthal and Ryan Silva, the Aggies will send off the high-octane duo of Mark Payne and Joe Harden.

Payne and Harden will both finish their UC Davis careers in the top-10 scoring leaders in team history. This will be the only times an Aggie team has had two top-10 scorers on the same squad.

Saturday’s Senior Night may be emotional, but most important to the veterans is being able to wear an Aggie uniform past this weekend.

“[My goal is to] just make the tournament,” Payne said. “If we can just get down there, we know that anything that can happen, and that’s what we’re looking at right now.

“Thursday [against Cal State Northridge] is a really big game. We need to win both games this week, and it’s a big task, but we think we can do it. You definitely want to win every game, but these are the two right in front of us.”

Last Saturday on the road, Harden went out with a leg injury after just seven minutes of play, and is now being evaluated on a day-to-day basis.

If the Aggies are without Harden, they will need junior Eddie Miller to step up more than ever. On Saturday, Miller scored a career high for the second consecutive game, pouring in 35 points against the Highlanders on 13-of-21 shooting.

Both games this weekend will be broadcast on KFSG 1690 with Scott Marsh and Bill Herenda on the call.

-Grace Sprague


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