IRVINE — The up-tempo brand of basketball is one most fans enjoy, but coaches are a more discerning audience. So, despite UC Irvine posting its most lopsided win in five seasons and its highest point total since 2004, first-year men's coach Russell Turner was less than euphoric about the Anteaters' 99-63 drubbing of visiting Vanguard on Wednesday at the Bren Events Center.
UCI exploded to a 61-39 first-half lead, then cruised to its sixth win in its last eight games behind five double-figure scorers.
Sophomore guard Daman Starring (19 points), freshman guard Chris McNealy (16) and senior Emil Kim (15) all posted career-high point outputs to help UCI improve to 6-4.
It was the biggest margin of victory since a 94-40 romp against Mississippi Valley State on Nov. 11, 2005. The 99 points were the most scored by a UCI squad since a 106-69 win over Cal State Dominguez Hills on Nov. 19, 2004.
Junior guard Derrick Strings had 13 points in his first start of the season and senior guard Darren Moore chipped in 11 points to help the winners.
Moore's eight rebounds allowed him to share team-high honors with senior Pavol Losonsky and senior Peter Simek. It was a career high for Simek.
"We had a bunch of guys play well and that's a good thing," Turner said. "It was a big game for McNealy, Starring had his third solid offensive game in a row , which is big, and I was really happy with the way Kim played; scoring 15 in 15 minutes was outstanding."
But Turner twice called timeout to rail at his players over defensive lapses in the first half and he was displeased with what he termed a lack of intensity during much of the final 20 minutes.
"There was a stretch in the second half for about 10 to 12 minutes that I thought was the worst 10 to 12 minutes we've played all year," Turner said. "Our intensity level was not good and I saw some selfish play."
After Vanguard (1-8), coached by former UCI assistant Rhett Soliday, netted three three-pointers to close within 12-11, UCI had a 13-0 run that put the hosts in control.
UCI finished 37 for 74 from the field (50%), including 13 of 25 from three-point range (52%).
The 'Eaters posted a 40-10 edge in the paint and had all 16 of the game's fast-break points.
Vanguard had 22 turnovers and shot 32.8% from the field (19 for 58).
Senior reserve Drew Bruns made four of his six three-point tries to pace the Lions with 12 points.
Junior Christopher Raybon had nine points and seven assists for the visitors, who received seven points and eight rebounds from junior Cameron Nettles.
UCI junior star Eric Wise did not play. Turner said he chose to rest Wise, who returned Friday from missing five games with a hip-flexor strain.
Wise is expected to play Saturday at Pepperdine, Turner said.
"It's not easy to keep your intensity level all the time, but what I'm trying to create here is a culture where that's expected all the time," Turner said. "And, hopefully, I'm going to be able to rely more on my players expecting that of themselves as time goes on. We'll get there, but it's a tough balance. And sometimes I go over that with my intensity."
UC Irvine 99, Vanguard 63
VU – Chapman 10, Nettles 7, Raybon 9, Pynch 9, Andrews 3, Bruns 12, Kelly 7, Hayes 4, Muandumba 2.
3-pt. goals – Bruns 4, Pynch 3, Raybon 2, Andrews 1, Kelly 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
UCI – Losonsky 4, Starring 19, Strings 13, Moore 11, Rembert 7, McNealy 16, Kim 15, Simek 6, Lalehzadeh 4, Flowers 4.
3-pt. goals – Starring 4, Strings 3, McNealy 2, Moore 1, Rembert 1, Lalehzadeh 1, Kim 1.
Fouled out – None.