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Irvine Press Backfires, Against San Diego State : Anteaters: Aztecs take advantage of turnovers and poor shooting to pour in layups in an 87-73 victory.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bad things kept happening to UC Irvine Saturday night at San Diego State’s Peterson Gym.

The Anteaters’ full-court press, a key ingredient in their run-until-the-other-guys-drop offense, was supposed to cause havoc for San Diego State. Instead, it was an open invitation for the Aztecs to shoot layups.

The Anteaters are supposed to roll up big scoring numbers behind their fast break and open three-point jump shots. Instead, Irvine kept shooting itself in the foot.

UCI shot 43.2% in the second half, had 23 turnovers and let San Diego State make 22 layups in a 87-73 Anteater loss. It was their lowest point-total of the season.

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“We get less points and less shots in each game,” Irvine Coach Bill Mulligan said. “Less points, less shots and no defensive intensity. Otherwise, we’re doing a great job.”

There were other problems, too.

Irvine made only one strong run at San Diego State, then fell flat early in the second half.

The Anteaters cut an 11-point halftime deficit to 56-53 after David Hollaway’s basket with 15:26 left in the game.

San Diego State, which had been having only moderate success running against Irvine’s press until then, broke the game open.

The Aztecs ran the way Mulligan would have liked the Anteaters to run.

A 12-0 run by San Diego State left Irvine dead in the water. The Aztecs had the Anteaters on a treadmill the rest of the way. Irvine never got closer than 10 points.

Marty Dow, San Diego State’s 7-foot-1 center, had a game-high 23 points, scoring almost exclusively on layups. Arthur Massey, a 6-2 guard, slashed through the Anteaters’ defense for 19 points.

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Vern Thompson and Keith Balzer each added 11 points for San Diego State (3-3). It was the Aztecs’ first victory over a Division I opponent.

“Irvine is a scrappy team and they’re well coached,” San Diego State Coach Jim Brandenburg said. “This was a better win than most people would think.”

Brandenburg was probably being kind. The Anteaters’ production was hardly impressive.

Jeff Herdman led Irvine with 16 points, making six of 10 shots, including four for eight from three-point range. Ricky Butler added 14 points and Dylan Rigdon 13 for Irvine (3-5).

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After starting the season 3-2, the Anteaters have lost three consecutive games.

That left Butler in a dour mood afterward.

Butler remembers well the Anteaters’ school-record 15-game losing streak last season. He doesn’t want to see it duplicated.

“We were up and ready to play,” he said. “It was turnover city. We went crazy on turnovers. We have to learn from this. It’s the same things we’ve been doing the past three games. We have to fix it fast.”

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The Anteaters’ game-plan was sound enough Saturday night. They wanted to take the ball at Dow, hoping to get him in foul trouble.

It never worked.

Dow made 11 of 16 shots, none was farther than three feet from the basket. He also had 14 rebounds.

And when San Diego State had the chance to run, it did.

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“They didn’t blow any of their two-on-ones,” Mulligan groused.

Anteater Notes

San Diego State outshot Irvine 52.9% to 47%. Forward Jeff Von Lutzow, who had started all seven games, was replaced in the lineup by Cornelius Banks. Von Lutzow, benched by Coach Bill Mulligan for lackluster play, entered the game with 5:41 left in the first half. He finished with two points in nine minutes. . . . Ricky Butler, the Anteaters’ slow-starting center, had scored 56 of his 82 points in the second half in his last four games. Going into Saturday’s game, he was shooting 85.7% in the second half. . . . Next: Irvine plays at Stanford Wednesday. The Anteaters return to the Bren Center next Saturday against California.


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