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Men’s Basketball Preview: UC Irvine vs. UC Riverside

UC Irvine Pregame

Vs. UC Riverside

Saturday, 7 p.m. at Bren Events Center

The UC Irvine men’s basketball team returns to the court after six days off to battle the UC Riverside Highlanders in a Big West Conference game.


The Anteaters (16-9, 7-2 in the Big West), ranked No. 22 in the mid-major top 25,  have won three straight and nine of their last 11. They defeated Riverside, 72-52, at Riverside on Jan. 11 in a game in which neither Will Davis, nor Mamadou Ndiaye played.

Through Thursday, UCI ranked No. 9 in the nation in assists per game (16.6) and blocked shots per game (6,4), as 7-foot-6 freshman center Mamadou Ndiaye is No. 4 nationally with 82 blocks. Ndiaye needs seven blocks to surpass the school’s single-season record set by Davis last season.

Freshman Luke Nelson, the reigning Big West Player of the Week, leads the team in scoring (12.5 per game), followed by senior Chris McNealy (11.7), Davis (10.7), sophomore Alex Young (9.1) and Ndiaye (8.7).

Davis and Ndiaye lead the team in rebounding at 6.5 and 6.2 per game, respectively, while Young leads the ‘Eaters in assists (4.5 per contest).


The Highlanders are paced by senior center Chris Patton (13.6 ppg and 6.2 rpg), as well as sophomore forward Taylor Johns (13.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg) and freshman guard Sam Finley (11.9 ppg).

— Barry Faulkner