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Davis, California

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Men’s Basketball Preview

Teams: UC Davis at Long Beach State; vs. Northern Colorado
Records: Aggies 11-13 (7-6); 49ers 16-9 (10-2); Bears 9-15 (7-9)
Where: Walter Pyramid — Long Beach, Calif.; The Pavilion — Davis, Calif.
When: Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.; Saturday at 7 p.m.
Who to watch: Junior Ryan Sypkens smashed two long-standing school records with one shot on Valentine’s Day. The historic three-pointer broke the single season three-point record, and also gave him the record for most 3-pointers scored in a career.

The Elk Grove, Calif. native is 91-188 from the three-point line this season, giving the Aggie faithful plenty of opportunities to throw their “forks up!”

Jokingly known as “Snipe-kens,” Ryan still has six regular season games left to try and break the 100 mark.

“Sypkens rarely misses. He shoots with confidence and it shows,” said head coach Jim Les.

Did you know? Not surprisingly, sophomore Corey Hawkins has earned yet another accolade this season. During UC Davis’ home sweep last week, Hawkins scored a whopping 52 points and shot 61.5 percent from the floor.

Hawkins has scored 437 points in his first season as an Aggie. If he continues to carry his 19.9 points per game average, he should not struggle to break the all-time leading scorer in Aggie history.

Preview: It is finally Long Beach State time. The 49ers are the top team in conference and the Aggies have been waiting all season to go up against the best.

The challenges are numerous. First, Long Beach State has yet to lose at home this season. Second, they are stacked with talent. They have size, shooters and incredible defenders and UC Davis is going to be hard-pressed to beat them.

To be fair, the Aggies have been playing their best basketball of the season lately. Hawkins continues to scorch opposing defenses, and Sypkens is always good for four or five 3-pointers. Senior point guard Paolo Mancasola has been managing this red-hot offense, while still managing to find buckets for himself.

UC Davis’ biggest weapon is its accuracy from the free-throw line so fouling does not give opponents any kind of competitive edge.

This is a benchmark game for the Aggies. With the Big West Conference tournament approaching, they need to know how they stack up against the top competitor. Coach Les is confident that his team can play a great game on Wednesday night, and possibly come home with a win.

“I am really pleased with the type of effort the guys are putting in, particularly defensively, and on the boards. Last game we held Hawai’i to 65 [points] and tonight we limited Northridge to 61 [points],” Les said. “We outrebounded both teams, that has been an area the staff has been emphasizing in practice and film sessions. This team continues to get better … if we can defend and rebound, we will continue to give ourselves a chance to win.”

After the contest in Long Beach, the Aggies get to return home to face off against Northern Colorado as part of an ESPN BracketBusters doubleheader. The men’s team kicks off the action at 1:30, and the women follow with a match against Cal State Fullerton at 4:00 p.m.

— Kim Carr


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