Teams: UC Davis vs. Long Beach State; vs. UC Irvine
Records: Aggies,14-14, (9-7); 49ers, 17-11, (13-3); Anteaters, 17-13, (10-6)
Where: The Pavilion — Davis, Calif.
When: Thursday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 7 p.m.
Who to watch: With all the fanfare surrounding this week’s ESPN2 game it is hard to pick just one player to watch. However, if Aggie fans are looking for electricity, they can find it in junior Ryan Sypkens.
The Elk Grove, Calif. local has returned to the roster after being sidelined with a knee surgery last season. In his “comeback” year, he has hit 99 three-pointers, earning him the school record for most three-pointers in a season, as well as career threes as an Aggie. He broke both of those records with one shot, and this Thursday he can crack the 100 mark with another.
Additionally, it has been two years since Long Beach State was tasked with defending Sypkens’ hot hands. It may be enough to give the Aggies the competitive edge they will need to take down the first-place team in the Big West Conference.
Did you know? Aggie basketball is delivering the excitement this week. Thursday’s game is the first-ever UC Davis basketball game to appear on national television. As if ESPN2 was not enough, Saturday’s home game will be Senior Night for the Aggies. UC Davis will be tasked with honoring and saying goodbye to two incredible players because both Paolo Mancasola and Ryan Howley will be graduating at the end of this year.
Preview: It is obvious that Long Beach State has the best record in conference. However, are they truly the “best” team in the Big West?
The Aggies traveled to Long Beach a few weeks ago and played an incredibly tight game that came down to the wire.
Essentially, it was a game of endurance. UC Davis — minus Sypkens — and Long Beach State sent their best guys against each other to duke it out to the finish. The 49ers did manage to pull a 71-65 victory after some drawn-out fouling and free throws closed the game.
Thursday night, the Aggies will have Sypkens back and they will have their home crowd behind them. This game should not be the blowout that many fans are expecting and in truth, the Aggies could walk away with the upset if they maintain their nerves and finish strong. Head coach Jim Les is feeling confident.
“We’re going to be ready,” Les said.
UC Davis is hoping for a record crowd on Thursday but fans should also return to watch Saturday’s matchup against the UC Irvine Anteaters. It is the last home game of the season and the team will need support as they tackle another leader in the Big West.
— Kim Carr