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UC Irvine Takes On Jacksonville Tonight

Times Staff Writer

UC Irvine’s basketball team has played three games already this season, but the Anteaters remain an enigma.

They won their first two at home in the Freedom Bowl tournament, beating Army, 90-68, and Manhattan, 86-83, before losing on the road Tuesday to Pepperdine, 91-89.

The results are not so surprising--considering that the first two teams are among the weakest in Division I and the third figures to be a West Coast power. It’s the way Irvine has played that is perplexing.

The Anteaters’ balanced, long-range offense overcame their tentative approach to defense in the victories. The defense was more aggressive against the Waves, but uncharacteristically poor shooting--33%--ruined any chance of upsetting Pepperdine.

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Coach Bill Mulligan figures to find out more about his team tonight and Saturday night in the sixth-annual Amana-Hawkeye tournament. Tonight, the Anteaters will play Jacksonville (1-1), and sixth-ranked Iowa (4-0) will play Navy (1-1) in the other first-round game.

Jacksonville, which lost to Florida, 82-52, in the first round of the NIT Big Apple tourney and beat Eckerd of St. Petersburg, Fla., 82-57, Monday night, is led by 6-foot 5-inch senior swingman Troy Mundine. Mundine is averaging 13.4 points a game. Coach Rich Haddad, a former Dolphin assistant now in his first season as head coach, inherited a team that was 19-11 last season.

The host Hawkeyes are playing well, having won the Maui tournament last weekend. Iowa won a school-record 30 games last season, including 18 in a row at the start. The Hawkeyes, who have three starters back, including second-team All-Big Ten selection Roy Marble, beat UC Irvine in the championship game of the Anteater tournament last year, 105-103.

Navy is hoping that guard Cliff Rees and forward Derric Turner can fill part of the void left by All-American David Robinson.

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