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Davis, California

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Aggies hope to break .500 over two-game homestand

Teams: UC Davis at Cal State Northridge; at UC Irvine

Records: Aggies (11-13); Matadors (11-12); Anteaters (14-9)

Where: The Pavilion — Davis, Calif.

When: Thursday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.

Who to watch:

Rarely should Aggie fans come to see other teams play. But, UC Irvine is an exception to the rule. The very tall reason for this treason is the Anteaters freshman center Mamadou Ndiaye who stands at 7’6”.

Ndiaye towers over all of his teammates, including 7’2” freshman center Ioannis Dimakopoulos and 7’0” sophomore center Conor Clifford. Oh, and he happens to be pretty good at basketball too, averaging 8.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 blocks while shooting a ridiculous 77.5 percent from the field.

If nothing else gets you moving, come see the Aggies play on Feb. 8 just to watch the Anteater big man who wears size 19 shoes and can touch the rim without jumping.


The last time that UC Davis and Cal State Northridge met this season, the Matadors came away with the victory.

While the Aggies’ offense played admirably in that game, the defense failed, a trend that has become all too common this season.

The Matadors shot over 62 percent from the field, including 41.7 percent from beyond the arc, and sank 22 out of their 23 free throws.

Throughout the season, the trio of junior forward Stephen Maxwell, junior guard Stephan Hicks and senior guard Josh Greene have given opposing teams fits. They are combining to average more than 48 points per game, over two-thirds of the team’s points. Against UC Davis, they scored 65 points while shooting 60 percent from the field.

To have a better outing against this squad, the Aggies will have to force the other Matadors into scoring roles, while rebounding better than they have thus far in the season. This shouldn’t prove to be too difficult as they have found a rare opponent that does not hold a significant size advantage.

UC Davis did a solid job defensively in a recent road game against Cal Poly, holding the Mustangs to 58 points on 30 percent shooting from beyond the arc. This was followed, however, by allowing UC Santa Barbara to dominate them to the tune of 82 points on 53.7 percent shooting. The second contest included Gaucho’s junior forward Alan Williams posting 27 points and 20 rebounds.

“The guys have played well on defense throughout the last two weeks at practice, we just needed that effort to show up on game day to earn a positive result,” head coach Jim Les said.

The Aggies will have to ignore their tough road loss and channel the defensive energy they held against Cal Poly to pull out a win against Cal State Northridge.

UC Irvine has a much more well-rounded squad as far as scoring the ball. No player averages 13 points per game, but they still manage to average more points per game than the Aggies.

Scarier yet, the Anteaters make 47.9 percent of their shots, good for No. 28 in all of Division I basketball. They also grab 10 more rebounds per game than UC Davis, led by the trio of seven-foot players previously mentioned.

If UC Irvine has a statistical weakness, it is extremely tough to find.

They did, however, struggle mightily against UC Santa Barbara several games ago, shooting just 35.7 percent from the field and losing by 20 points. They were outrebounded by eight and were forced into 13 turnovers.

Leading scorer, freshman guard Luke Nelson shot just 9-21 from the field, including 6-15 from beyond the arc.

If the Aggies can figure out what the Gauchos did to fluster UC Irvine, while shooting lights out from beyond the arc, they will have a chance to steal the game.

That being said, the Anteaters seem to simply have too much size for the Aggies and will likely overpower the defense for an away victory.

— Ryan Reed


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