GAME NOTES: The UC Davis Aggies hit the road seeking revenge as they tangle with the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in a Big West Conference battle at The Thunderdome.
The Gauchos and Aggies have played 25 times before with UCSB holding a 21-4 all-time edge. UCSB won in Davis on Jan. 12, 66-59 and swept two games last season. In all, the Gauchos have won nine straight games over the Aggies.
UC Davis is coming off of a 77-64 loss at Pacific which started its three-game road swing. The Aggies' loss dropped them to an 8-12 overall record, including a 4-5 Big West standings. John Ritchart drilled five shots from beyond the 3- point line en route to a team-best 22 points in the setback. Ritchart is just fourth on the team in scoring with 9.7 ppg. His breakout performance came partially due to the absence of the Big West's leading scorer Corey Hawkins, who is doubtful to return on Wednesday due to injury.
In their loss to the Tigers, the Aggies went 21-of-47 (44.7 percent) from the floor, 10-for-23 (43.5 percent) from 3-point range and 12-for-15 from the free-throw line. Pacific was just a shade better with a 48.2 percent field goal conversion rate. Ryan Sypkens and J.T. Adenrele scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, to join Ritchart in double figures. Both own double-digit scoring averages to help UC Davis generate 72.8 ppg. The Aggies are second to last in the Big West in scoring defense though, allowing 74.6 points per tilt.
The Gauchos return home to The Thunderdome in search of answers after suffering a 62-60 loss to UC Irvine, their fourth consecutive setback. UCSB's slide dropped it to a 3-7 record in Big West play, leaving it six games out of the first place. The Gauchos were unsuccessful against the Anteaters despite the return of star sophomore forward, Alan Williams, who produced 22 points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes before fouling out. Williams had missed the previous three games with a hamstring injury.
UCSB came extremely close to finishing off a come-from-behind victory against the Anteaters, overcoming a 17-point halftime deficit to take a 60-59 lead late in the contest. UC Irvine ended the threat with a 3-pointer shortly after to take the win. Joining Williams in double figures, Kyle Boswell tacked on 15 points off the bench and Michael Bryson had 12 points. Williams is a monster inside, netting 17.7 points and grabbing a conference-leading 9.8 rebounds per game. The Gauchos are not as prominent on the offensive end as the visitors, as they score just 66.6 ppg. They are also allowing foes to post 74.5 ppg.
If Hawkins is unable to return, UC Davis may be in serious trouble as Williams seems like a lock to produce every time he takes the floor. The Aggies' suspect defense may be their Achilles' heel against a UCSB squad that is ready to seize the opportunity.
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