Teams: UC Davis at Cal State Northridge; at Long Beach State
Records: UC Davis, 5-10 (0-0); Cal State Northridge, 8-7 (0-0); Long Beach State, 4-10 (0-0)
Who to watch:
Senior guard Ryan Sypkens is coming into the game against Cal State Northridge having notched a UC Davis record 10 three-pointers made against Simpson University. Sypkens scored a career-high 30 points in the win.
He is scoring just 11.5 points per game on the season, his lowest total since his freshman year, but has averaged 20.6 points in the last three contests. It seems he has found his rhythm.
“When he is patient, he is as dangerous a shooter as anyone in the country,” coach Jim Les said.
In the first game of their Southern California road trip, the UC Davis Aggies will face the Cal State Northridge Matadors.
The Matadors are coming off of a comeback defeat by the South Dakota Coyotes, which saw an eight point lead dwindle in the last 3:30.
Cal State Northridge is led by the trio of forward Stephan Hicks, forward Stephen Maxwell, and guard Josh Greene. Hicks averages a team high 17.6 points per game, on an efficient 55.3 percent shooting from the floor, while adding 7.4 rebounds per game. Maxwell has added an equally efficient 16.5 points and a team-high 8.6 rebounds per game. Finally, Greene has played the role of three point marksman, averaging 14.8 points while shooting 49.3 percent from beyond the arc.
The Aggies, meanwhile, have struggled significantly rebounding the ball. They are averaging a lowly 30.9 rebounds per game and are led by senior forward Josh Ritchart with 6.6 rebounds each contest. This has been in part due to the significant struggles of forwards Iggy Nujic and Clint Bozner, who are averaging a combined 5.8 rebounds per game.
If the Aggies want to win this game, they must accomplish a few things. First and foremost, they must crash the boards and not allow the Matadors to get many second chance points.
UC Davis also has to score the ball efficiently. Cal State Northridge has shot the ball well thus far, with its top two scorers making over half of their shots. The Aggies, on the other hand, are rarely efficient beyond Ritchart. Both junior guard Corey Hawkins and Sypkens are shooting under 42 percent from the field, and the team only makes 34.4 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc.
The Matadors will be a tough test for the Aggies as they have played well defensively. The Matadors have held three of their last four opponents to shooting under 42 percent from the field. Cal State Northridge has also benefited greatly from the play of center Tre Hale-Edmerson, who has averaged 1.9 blocks and 1.8 steals per game.
As for the Long Beach State 49ers, do not be fooled by the poor record. These 49ers have seen four of their losses come against top 25 nationally-ranked opponents. They barely lost to then #10 VCU, falling by six points, and recently were defeated by the #25 Missouri Tigers by 10 points.
Long Beach State is led by guard Tyler Lamb, who has only played in the last four games for the 49ers after sitting out due to transfer requirements. Lamb has struggled from the field, shooting only 35.7 percent thus far, but he has averaged 20.8 points per game and is getting to the free throw line over six times per game. Lamb will only continue to get better as he shakes off the rust from sitting out for over a year.
Guard Mike Caffey has held down the point guard position well for Long Beach State, averaging 16.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists. The 49ers, meanwhile, have gotten much of their production down low from forward Dan Jennings, who has given them 11.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.
As a whole, the Long Beach State 49ers have shot the ball very poorly this season, a weakness that the Aggies must capitalize on in order to score a victory. Through the first 14 games of the season, the 49ers have shot 39.6 percent from the field and a lackluster 27.6 percent from beyond the arc. If UC Davis wants to win, they will have to continue to limit the 49ers’ efficiency and prevent Lamb from having his breakout game of the season.
The Aggies will also have to play far more efficiently than they have, limit turnovers and second chance points and win the rebounding battle against a strong 49ers squad which pulls in 36 rebounds per game.
— Ryan Reed