Vs. Cal Poly SLO
Saturday, 8 p.m. at Cal Poly
The UC Irvine men’s basketball team will try to break a two-game losing streak and retain at least a share of the Big West Conference lead in the conference road game against the Mustangs.
UCI, which went 6-2 in January, is 13-9, 4-2 in conference, tied atop the standings with UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (8-12, 4-3) are in fourth place, one-half game behind the leaders.
Cal Poly was upset, 63-58, by visiting UC Davis on Thursday.
UCI will likely be without junior Will Davis, who missed Thursday’s 80-60 loss at UC Santa Barbara, with a bad back. UCI Coach Russ Turner said Thursday that Davis was questionable for Saturday. Davis leads UCI in rebounding (6.9 per game) and is third in scoring (11.4).
John Ryan (4.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game) started in Davis’ place on Thursday.
UCI is ranked No. 18 in the CollegeInsider.com mid-major top 25 and plays four of its next six games on the road, including Saturday.
The Anteaters lead the conference in assists per game (16.8), blocked shots per game (6.4) and field-goal-percentage defense (.392), and are second in field-goal percentage (.479) and scoring offense (74.5 per game).
Cal Poly leads the conference in scoring defense (63.5 per game).
The Mustangs are led by senior Chris Eversley (13.7 points and seven rebounds per game), as well as sophomore Dave Nwaba (12.1 ppg).
UCI is led in scoring by senior Chris McNealy (12.1), followed by freshman Luke Nelson (12.0)m Davis, sophomore Alex Young (9.2) and 7-foot-6 freshman Mamadou Ndiaye (8.9).
Ndiaye had made 25 straight field-goal attempts, one shy of the NCAA Division I record, before missing his first shot at UCSB on Thursday. He is 16 for 18 in conference games (88.9%) and 77 for 98 overall (78.6%) this season and ranks eight nationally with 67 total blocks.
UCI leads the series, 22-20.
— Barry Faulkner